The Acting Director of Defence Information, Brig.-Gen. Rabe Abubakar, has said the directive to officers of the Nigerian Army to declare their assets is informed by the need to preserve the integrity of the military and check corruption among the officers.
Abubakar said this in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja on Thursday.
The Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Col. Sani Kukasheka, had, earlier in a statement on Thursday, said the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, had directed all officers of the Nigerian Army, who had not declared their assets, to do so immediately.
He added that Buratai had declared his own assets on his appointment as Commander, Multinational Joint Task Force in May, 2015 and also on his appointment as Chief of Army Staff in July, 2015.
Kukasheka stated, “This directive is in order, considering the fact that all military officers have Presidential Commission and are public servants, as well as subject to both civil and military laws.
In addition, given the current drive of the country for probity and accountability, the Nigerian Army should not only key into such move but should be one of the key drivers of such laudable project.”
Abubakar, while justifying the directive of the Army chief, said, “This is a system which is built on discipline. This is a system which is built on integrity; so, any questionable character should be stopped. It doesn’t need to happen before we start shouting. All the loopholes should be blocked.”
When asked if the directive would be extended to other services, he said, “We should always take things as they come. As I earlier said, the military is one family. The military is one entity, the military is one brotherhood. So whatever we do, we share sentiment among ourselves. Most importantly, we want to, as much as possible, preserve the integrity for which the military is known over the years.”
He added that when such orders were given, there must be compliance, adding that compliance was in the interest of the nation.
On its part, the Nigeria Immigration Service said its personnel declared their assets periodically in line with the Code of Conduct for public officials.
The NIS Public Relations Officer, Ekpedeme King, stated that every immigration officer adhered to the CCB requirement for civil servants to declare their assets in their forms.
King said this in response to inquiries about asset declaration by NIS personnel.
He added, “We don’t need to issue fresh directives to our personnel to declare their assets because they have been doing that periodically. This is in line with the Code of Conduct for public officials and it is compulsory for all revenue generating agencies of government.”
The Public Relations Officer, Nigerian Customs Service, Mr Wale Adeniyi, could not be reached for comments on the number of officers that had complied with the asset declaration directive handed to the personnel by the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (retd.), over a week ago.
Calls and text messages sent to his phones were not responded to as of 7.40pm.
A senior official of the service, however, confided in one of our correspondents that since last week, when the directive was issued, many officers of the service had complied.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity on Thursday, stated, “The new Customs boss, since assumption of office, has been emphasising zero tolerance for corruption, and in furtherance of that, directed that our assets be declared.
“I want to state that since that directive was issued last week, many of our men have been complying.”
The Customs had, on Friday last week, gave its officers 14 days to declare their assets.
The police could not be reached for comment on whether the management had directed its personnel to declare their assets.
The Force Public Relations Officer, Olabisi Kolawole, could not be reached for comment as she was said to be in a meeting when one of our correspondents called her on the telephone on Thursday.
She had yet to respond to a text message sent to her mobile as of the time of filing this report.
The Chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau, Mr. Sam Saba, had in an interview with Saturday PUNCHlast year said, “Some of the military personnel declare but most of them are not declaring. They used to declare in the early 90s but somehow they just stopped.
‘‘Only some of them, who are service chiefs, declare, but the others don’t fill the form.”
Under the Part II of the 5th Schedule of the Constitution, public officers, required to declare their assets, include the President of the Federation, the Vice-President, the President and Deputy President of the Senate, Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives and Speaker and Deputy Speaker of Houses of Assembly, and all members and staff of legislative houses.
Others are governors and deputy governors, Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justices of the Supreme Court, President and Justices of the Court of Appeal, all other judicial officers and all staff of courts of law; Attorney General of the Federation and Attorney General of each state.
They also include ministers, the Inspector-General of Police, Deputy Inspector-General of Police, all members of the Nigeria Police Force and other government security agencies established by law as well as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Head of the Civil Service, permanent secretaries, directors-general and all other persons in the civil service of the federation or of the state.