From Idu Jude, Abuja

As Nigeria strives to stamp out corruption in public office and to grow its economy, proper compliance with assets declaration rules has been highlighted as key to ensuring proper public service accountability.

Minister of Transportation Mu’azu Jaji Sambo made the remark Tuesday in Abuja during a two-day sensitisation and public enlightenment workshop organised by the anti-corruption unit of the Special Duties Department in the Ministry of Transportation.

The minister, who was represented on the occasion by Permanent Secretary Dr Magdalene Ajani, reiterated the government’s zero-tolerance stance on corruption, noting that the workshop was organised to expose corrupt practices in the private and public sectors, in order to reduce the frequency of occurrences, if not stamping it out totally. He said the federal government is incentivising public officeholders to institutionalise the practice.

“I can tell you that corruption, is the misuse of power for private gain and it is a merciless baseless development killer. Therefore, it here deserves concerted efforts and Integrity to bring the monster down,” Dr Ajani, speaking for the minister, stated.

“I can tell you that corruption, is the misuse of power for private gain and it is a merciless baseless development killer. Therefore, it here deserves a concerted effort and Integrity to bring the monster down.”

In his remark at the workshop, the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) Prof Isah Mohammed, noted that the federal government established the agency in 1979, saddling it with the responsibility of ensuring that public officeholders undergo background checks through assets declaration.

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He further said that the law came into full implementation in 1989 to regulate actions of every activity of government officeholders and to enshrine transparency and accountability.

Prof Isah said that “the CCB act 169 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic is mandatory and an obligation that every public office holder must declare their assets in accordance with paragraph 1 of 5th schedule. The law also provides that an officer can be investigated and arrested based on his lifestyle even after he or she has declared assets.”

The Act, according to him, should be revitalised and strengthened for optimum performance.

The Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), Prof Bolaji Owasanoye, represented at the workshop by Mr Lewis Mandama, ICPC Board member (North East), stated that corruption has adversely affected government efficiency in developing the country.

“The issue of corruption has really done more harm to this country than good and must be jettisoned totally. The ICPC is making further recommendations and ways of sensitising staff at public offices by instituting office units, to maintain anti-corruption ratings and scorecards subsequently.

He said that staff should comply with ethics and compliance benchmarks in all public offices to promote accountability and integrity for the overall interest of the country.

Resource persons for the workshop indicated that internal anti-corruption units in each agency and ministry should work in tandem with anti-graft agencies.