The Code of Conduct Tribunal has revealed the loophole in the procedure put in place by its sister agency, the Code of Conduct Bureau, for receiving completed asset declaration forms from public officers.
The CCB, by law, issues asset declaration forms to public officers, receives and verifies the completed forms and also prosecutes before the CCT those who fail to submit the completed forms or whose forms contain infractions.
But the CCT said in a judgment delivered on April 28, 2016, that the CCB’s procedure for receiving the forms from public officers needed to be strengthened.
Based on the perceived loophole in the CCB’s procedure for receiving the completed forms, the CCT in the said judgment discharged and acquitted the defendant in the case, Mr. M.A Miashanu.
Maishanu was an officer in the Office of the Secretary of the Government of Kano State, who was charged with failure to submit his pre-tenure written declaration of his assets in 2007.
The offence was said to be contrary to paragraph 11(1) of Part I of the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution and punishable under paragraph 18(2) of the said Part I of Fifth Schedule.
However in its judgment on the charges preferred against Maishanu, the CCT said “it appears there is no clearly discernible fool proof methodology” to determine whether or not the accused actually failed to return the form issued to him by the CCB after completing it.
The CCT panel comprising its chairman, Danladi Umar, and the other member, Atedze Awadza, held in the judgment that evidence given by the two prosecution witnesses (PWI and II) and the defendant himself (DWI) cast doubt on the prosecution’s charge against Maishanu.
Umar, who read the CCT’s judgment said, “The tribunal examined the exhibits tendered and weighted them against the testimony of the witnesses and has come to the firm conclusion that the process put in place by CCB for receiving completed asset declaration forms from public officers, up to the time acknowledgment slips are issued, need to be strengthened.
“DWI (the defendant himself) testified that he duly filled the form and submitted it to a lady in the CCB, Kano office, and PW II (a clerical officer at the Kano office of the CCB, Mr. Ali Hausawa) confirmed during cross-examination that he is not the only officer in the CCB Kano office who receives completed asset declaration forms CCB1 from public officers. That is to say, it is possible that DW I actually submitted his form to a lady working in the CCB Kano office.
“PWI (Senior Administrative Officer at the Kano office of CCB, Sani Ibrahim Bayero) also admitted during cross-examination that since it takes about two weeks between the receipt of Completed Assets Declaration Forms for Public Officers and the time of acknowledgment slips are issued, there is possibility of errors on the part of the CCB officials.
“From the testimony of the prosecution witnesses, it appears there is no clearly discernible ‘foolproof’ methodology to show that the accused person’s Assets Declaration Forms were not returned except that his name was not entered into Exhibit 2 (Assets Declaration Register where the name of the accused is not found).
“When this testimony is placed side by side with that of DWI that he submitted his completed forms to a lady in the CCB Kano office, it casts a doubt on the charge especially with the admission by PWI that there could be error in the process and PW2 saying he is not the only one who receives completed forms from public officers”.
Maishanu defended himself in the trial as he did not engage the services of a lawyer.