- As Bill Scales second reading
By Henry Umoru, ABUJA
MOVES by the Senate to unburden the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation of the responsibility of keeping records of declared assets by Nigeria
Customs Service, bank workers, and transferring same to the relevant regulator of each industry got a boost on Tuesday.
The Bill for an Act to Amend the Bank Employees Etc. ( Declaration of Assets) Act Cap B1 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and for related Matters, 2022( SB.900) is sponsored by Senator Sani Musa, All Progressives Congress, APC, Niger East.
The bill which scaled second reading was referred by the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan to the Senator Uba Sani, APC, Kaduna Central led Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions to report back at plenary within four weeks.
In his lead debate on the general principles of the bill, the sponsor, Senator Musa explained that the amendment will help cure the inconsistency and conflict with the 1999 Constitution as amended, which requires that all public servants including employees of the Nigeria Customs Service, must declare their assets to the Code of Conduct Bureau.
According to him, the amendment became very imperative because it also amount to a duplication of duty, if employees of the Nigerian Customs Service still declare their assets to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation as prescribed by the principal Act. The bill addresses this anomaly by removing the employees of the customs service from employees, which the Act applies to.
Senator Musa said, “this Bill was read for the first time on the floor of this hallowed Chambers on Wednesday, 26 January, 2022.
“This Bill seeks to amend the Bank Employees, etc. (Declaration of Assets) Act, Laws of the Federation 2010, and hence bring it in conformity with the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic as amended, as well as resolving certain anomalies brought about by present day realities and best practices in our financial system.
“It will provide the necessary legal framework regarding assets declaration of employees in the financial institutions, pension fund administrators, stock brokers and insurance firms and ensure that their employees’ assets declaration are regulated by the relevant and statutory regulator of the specific sector.
“The statutory regulators for the various sectors are the Central Bank, National Pensions Commission, Securities and Exchange Commission and the National Insurance Commission.”
Speaking on the background to the Bill, Senator Musa said, “On 16 March, 2021, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) announced that all employees of financial institutions (including banks) in Nigeria must declare their assets before 1st June, 2021 in line with the provisions of the Bank Employees, etc. (Declaration of Assets) Act 1986 (the EFCC Order).
“The directive elicited several debates as to who the appropriate authority was and the status of the bank workers, and bank casual/part-time workers.
“The BEDA Act expressly states that all manner, title and types of workers in the bank and financial institutions are to declare their assets. The Act covers all employees of financial institutions in Nigeria and those in their foreign branches, from the bank executives to cleaners, drivers, messengers, and the last person on their chain, whether in full or temporal employment.
“By the provisions of the Principal Act, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, being the appropriate authority, was given the responsibility of keeping completed forms of Assets Declaration by employees of banks and Customs service.
“Then, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation had the combined functions of the present Head of Service of the Federation as well as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
“Whether those records of assets declaration were kept as prescribed by the Act or not is yet to be ascertained.
“Another cogent reason for this amendment is that the Bank Employees, etc. (Declaration of Assets) Act (hereinafter referred to as the BEDA Act or the Act) was promulgated on 26 September 1986 (35 years ago).
“It is lawful, valid and operational in all parts of Nigeria, but however, certain provisions in the Act, have been overtaken by the 1999 Constitution as amended, with the creation of the Code of Conduct Bureau, which came into effect 13 years after the Act.
“This, therefore, justifies the amendment, whereby the definition of the appropriate authority is identified as well as bringing the provisions to conform with present-day realities as contained in the 1999 Constitution as amended.
“This bill seeks to extend the application of the Act to employees of other financial institutions which have emerged as key players in the Nigerian financial sector over the years, i.e. pension funds agencies, insurance firms, stocks brokers, etc. and to monitor the financial activities of these officers to ensure that their lifestyle reflects their earnings and to discourage them from engaging in corrupt practices.
“It also seeks to unburden the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation of the responsibility of keeping records of declared assets by Nigeria Customs Service and bank workers and transferring same to the relevant regulator of each industry.
“Furthermore the provisions of the Principal Act mandate the ComptrollerGeneral and other employees of the Nigeria Customs Service to declare their assets to the Secretary of the Federation.
“This amendment will certainly bring certainty and clarity and also deepen our Constitutional mandate in making laws for the good governance of our dear Country and also strengthen our democracy.”