Home News Saraki’s Trial: Senate Moves to Strip SGF of Control over CCB

Saraki’s Trial: Senate Moves to Strip SGF of Control over CCB

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A Bill to amend the Act establishing the Code of Conduct Bureau passed the first reading at the Senate on Tuesday as the National Assembly resumed plenary after the Easter recess.
The Senate also passed for the first reading seven other bills, including a bill seeking to amend the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, which was passed by the 7th National Assembly.
Speaking to newsmen after plenary, the sponsor of the CCB Act amendment Bill, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi (Delta North, PDP), said it had become necessary to amend the Act establishing the CCB and its Tribunal.
The amendment to the Bill was brought up after the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, was dragged before the Code of Conduct Tribunal based on the recommendation of the CCB.
Saraki was said to have failed to make full disclosure of his assets as the Governor of Kwara State.
One of those alleged to be against Saraki in the case was the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, whose office oversees the CCB.
Lawal had been accused of having vowed to ensure that Saraki goes to jail over the issue.
The Tribunal was also accused of executing the agenda of the executive on the issue.
This was more so that the case of a former Governor of Lagos State and National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, the ruling party at the federal level, was dismissed because it was not brought on time.
When the same reason was canvassed to support Saraki’s case, the Tribunals aid it erred in dismissing the case because the law never stipulated a time frame for investigation and trial.
Nwaoboshi, an ally of Saraki, on Tuesday said the main aim of the amendment was to move the bureau and the tribunal away from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
He said: “The Code of Conduct Tribunal and the Code of Conduct Bureau now are under the office of the Secretary to the Government.
“The Secretary to the Government is a politician and can use it against political opponents or perceived political opponents.
“He oversees the CCB and the CCT; they report to his office.
“Since the Supreme Court in their judgment has said that they are a court of some sort, they must be seen to be neutral in nature and not to report to a politician.
“We want to make it completely neutral, either move it to the judiciary or move it to the National Assembly that has the power to remove the chairman and members of the tribunal.
“Otherwise, one day like we are seeing now, if you are an enemy to the SGF, he will use the CCB to put you into trouble, charge you there like we are seeing now.
“The intent is not because of what is happening; you cannot put a quasi judicial arm under the control of the SGF who is a politician, appointed by the President,.”
The senator added that the amendment to the Act would include stipulating a time line within which the bureau should investigate assets declared by a political office holder.
Nwaoboshi said it was out of place for the CCB to prescribe that a political office holder should declare assets at the beginning and end of his tenure “while the bureau decides when to investigate”.
He added: “Within the time you came to office and the time you are leaving office, they must have investigated your assets.
“What is left is to investigate the assets declared when leaving office.
“You do not just leave it for so many years, and then all of a sudden, someone wakes up and says ’56 years ago you did not declare your asset’.
“That should not be so.
“You have been given a time frame to declare at the beginning and at the end, but within the four years, the CCB does not conduct its investigations immediately.
“Who says that someone cannot stand up tomorrow when President Buhari leaves office and says that he did not declare his asset at a particular time?
“The court has said that it made a mistake in Tinubu’s case, which means another political party can come up tomorrow and pick up Tinubu.
“There should be a time frame, not when you wake up any day you just slam anybody.
“And do you now see the patriotism in what I am doing?”
On the perception that the Bill was informed because of the current trial of Saraki, by the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Nwaoboshi said that perception would not deter him.
He said he would not shy away from doing something that was right and patriotic because of what Nigerians would say.
He said: “My duty is to the Nigerian people.
“We should not leave a sensitive organ like that under the whims and caprices of a politician, who is the SGF.
“It should be left in the hands of the judiciary or the legislature.”
The other bills passed for first reading were In-Vitro Fertilisation Bill 2016, Criminal Injuries Compensation Bill and National Sports Commission Establishment Bill.
Others included the Nigeria Football Federation Establishment Bill and Environmental Health Officers Registration Amendment Bill.
NAN.

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