Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja
In an apparent move to save its President, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki, from the trial he is currently facing at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), an offshoot of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), the Senate, on Tuesday, commenced the process of amending the Act establishing and regulating the modus operandi of the Bureau.
This was sequel to a Bill sponsored by Senator Peter Nwaboshi and other senators for the actualisation of the plan, which was read for the first time on the floor of the Senate.
The Bill seeks to move the supervision of the CCB from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) as a way of ensuring its neutrality, as well as amendments of some of its injurious provisions.
But Nwaboshi, in an interview with Senate correspondents, however, denied that the Bill was not being sponsored in connection with Saraki’s trial.
He explained that it was to ensure the neutrality of the CCB in its operations to save it from being used as a tool for political vendetta.
“We want to save Nigerians from over zealous politicians. The Code of Conduct Tribunal and the Code of Conduct Bureau now is under the Office of the Secretary to the Government. The Secretary to the Government is a politician and can use it as a politician against political opponents or perceived political opponents.
“He oversees the CCB and the CCT, they report to his office. So, since the Supreme Court in their judgment has said that they are a court of some sort, they must be seen to be neutral in nature and to not report to a politician.
“What we intend by the bill it to make it completely neutral, either move it to the judiciary or move it to the National Assembly that has the power to remove the Chairman and members of the tribunal and not to be reporting to a politician and being over-sighted by a politician.
“It should be seen as an independent body, doing its job, we give them what they are entitled to, otherwise, one day like we are seeing now, if you are an enemy to the SGF, he will use the CCB to put you into trouble, charge you there like we are seeing now.
“So, to make it to be really neutral and be independent, we are trying to save Nigerians, any politician could be written to whenever he steps on the toes of the SGF.
“The intent is not because of what is happening it is because we want to save Nigerians, we want Nigerians to see: you cannot put a quasi judicial arm under the control of the SGF, who is a politician, appointed by the President, doing political job, then you put him in charge.
“The CCB said you declare your asset upon assumption of office and when your are leaving office, you declare your asset. Within the time you came to office and the time you are leaving office they must have investigated that your asset, what is left is to investigate the asset declared when leaving office.
“You do not just leave it for 100 years, then all of a sudden, someone wakes up and says: 56 years ago you did not declare your asset, that should not be so. You have been given a time frame to declare at the beginning and at the end, but within the four years, the CCB does not conduct its investigations immediately but takes another 15 years.
“Who says that someone cannot stand up tomorrow when President Buhari leaves office and says that he did not declare his asset at a particular time. The court has said that it made a mistake in Tinubu’s case which means another political party can come up tomorrow and pick up Tinubu.
“Do you now see the patriotism in what I am doing? There should be a time frame, not when you wake up any day, you just slam anybody. I am doing this a s patriotic Nigerian to make sure this body is not used as a political weapon to witch hunt your political opponents or an individual,” he said.
When told that Nigerians may read wrong meanings to the move going by the ongoing trial of the Senate President at the Tribunal, he maintained that he was doing it to save generality of political office holders in the country from unwarranted political persecution in future, despite perception or no perception.
“I would not shy away as a result of what people would say to do what I think is right for the Nigerian people. My duty is to the Nigerian people. We should not leave a sensitive organ like that under the whims and caprices of a politician, who is the SGF. It should be left in the hands of the judiciary or the legislature,” he explained.