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Group Berates Foreign Account For Public Officers

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan

Kayode Adelowokan, Lagos

The Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) has opposed the controversial bill seeking to allow public officers operate foreign bank accounts.

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan

Under the extant Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, 2004, it is criminal for a public officer to operate a bank account outside Nigeria. The bill passed the second reading on Wednesday, November 20, 2013, seeks to amend this law “so as to make the leave of the Bureau necessary for a public officer to maintain or operate a bank account outside Nigeria.”

One of the supporters of the bill, Mr. Bamidele Faporosi, argued that the current law was “weak and ineffective,” as no public officer had been successfully prosecuted for flouting it.

Reacting to the news on behalf of the Coalition, its Executive Chairman, Debo Adeniran, flayed the reason adduced by the supporters of the new bill.

Adeniran said, “It is not only absurd but unreasonable for our legislators to base the reason for the scrapping of the extant Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, 2004 on non-enforcement. Does it mean that if you cannot enforce any law then you scrap it? This is like cutting off the head because one has headache. It is clear that the problem is not in the law, but its enforcement.

“This new amendment will actually encourage corruption rather than reduce it. The bill to allow public office holders open and operate foreign bank account will definitely expand corrupt practices to an unimaginable level, thereby worsening the current worrisome massive corrupt practices being perpetrated by the Nigerian politicians. Though we know that some public officers still smuggle and open foreign accounts by proxy, but this bill will just be another way to legalize the fleecing of our country’s treasury and laundering of the public funds to other countries.

“It is more reasonable to ask public officers to operate domiciliary accounts for the benefit of the country instead of giving them the leeway to stash their stolen loots in some foreign accounts where it would be difficult to trace.”

Also, the anti-corruption crusader expressed surprise at the speed with which the bill has scaled the second reading whereas many of the pro-masses bills are gathering dust in the national assembly.

It is very disheartening, Comrade Debo Adeniran, said the said bill has passed the second reading and would soon be passed into law.

He affirmed that the act shows how efficient our lawmakers could be when a move would benefit them. “These are the same set of people that are yet to pass many of the pro-masses bills. What is the fate of the Health Bill? Where is the Petroleum Industry Bill? What of other pro-masses bills that have been thrashed by these legislators? This obviously shows what is more important to our representatives in the National Assembly,” Adeniran stated.

Chairman, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL), Comrade Debo Adeniran, however, urged the National Assembly to jettison the unpopular bill and pass bills that will benefit the Nigerian masses.

He also urged the law enforcement agents to be more vigilant and proactive in discharging their duties.

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