The Comptroller-General of Customs, Col Hammed Ali (retd), has directed all officers of the Nigerian Customs Service to make full disclosure of their assets within 14 days. The directive which was reportedly contained in a circular signed by the CG and addressed to all Deputy Comptrollers-General, Zonal Coordinators and Customs Area Controllers was aimed at ensuring transparency and compliance with the rule of law.
It’s worth recalling that CACOL, like some other well-meaning individuals and organizations, has consistently been advocating that all public exposed persons (PEPs) including governors, ministers and those who work directly with the President such as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and the President’s Chief of Staff should declare their assets and make it public to lead by example reiterating the Coalition’s position that the declaration of assets is the non-prosecutorial way of fighting corruption.
One of the prominent promises made by President Buhari and his party the APC during the election campaign was to make his asset declaration public and to make every of his personal aides and appointees do likewise. Nigerians applauded this as one bold step capable of reducing to the barest minimum, the notorious obsession by public officers using the privileges attached to their offices to amass ill-gotten wealth with reckless abandon.
The Executive Chairman of the Coalition, Debo Adeniran while commending the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col Hammed Ali (retd) directives said, “The Commission seems to be the only government unit that is doing the right thing. While efforts in democratizing the electoral process in the country are yielding concrete benefits, there is the need to entrench public accountability in governance and asset declaration is one of the many tools that can help curb the pervasive corruption ravaging this country.
In Nigeria, it is a constitutional law that public officers, no matter how highly placed, declare their assets before and after leaving public office. The declaration of assets by public officers, irrespective of political, religious or ethnic affiliations, should not only be mandatory but also compulsory.
Adeniran averred that “If the contents of the declared assets are not brought to the knowledge of the public it cannot be considered honest declaration because any declaration that is shrouded in secrecy can always be manipulated behind the scene to suit the purpose and interest of false and dishonest declarants.”
“It is high time all other government units including the members of the National Assembly, governors, special assistants, special advisers etc followed suit by declaring their assets. Many studies have shown that asset declaration systems can increase transparency and citizens’ confidence in public administration, and assist crime-prevention agencies to monitor wealth variations between when public officers assume office and when they leave office.
“The CCB Act should also be amended to make it mandatory for the declarations by all units to be published on the appropriate WebPages. Unless it is made public, information contained in the forms submitted to the CCB may not be easily accessible to every member of the public wishing to verify its authenticity,” Adeniran concluded.