The Central Bank of Nigeria has ordered workers in all the 19 Deposit Money Banks in the country to declare their assets. The move analysts say looks like the Federal Government is beginning to expand its ongoing anti-corruption crusade to the private sector, especially the banking industry.
The directive, which came in a letter through the Banking Supervision Department of the CBN to all the 19 commercial banks in the country about four weeks ago, gave bank officials only one week to complete the assets declaration process, sources close to the DMBs said.
As of Thursday, investigation by our correspondent revealed that all the staff members of Ecobank Nigeria, First City Monument Bank Limited and Fidelity Bank Plc had complied with the directive.
Narrating his experience, a top official of one of the tier-1 banks, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said, “All our staff members, from the most junior to the most senior, were asked to declare their assets through a court affidavit. It was handled by the company’s lawyer.
“We were asked to declare all our assets, including developed and undeveloped parcels of land, properties, houses in Nigeria and outside Nigeria etc. We were asked to also declare everything, including power generators at home. We complied within one week.”
Top bank executives said the move by the apex bank was not unconnected to the Federal Government’s plans to extend its anti-corruption crusade to the private sector.
It was also gathered that fear had descended on bank workers, especially top officials whose assets were beyond their means.
It was learnt that the fear that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission might soon begin the examination of the details of the assets declaration forms vis-à-vis the properties some top banker own.
Some top bankers, who own huge assets, it was gathered, were panicky on how they would be able to justify the huge assets in their names should the EFCC and ICPC come knocking on their doors.
Commenting on the assets declaration, an executive director in one of the top three banks, said, “It is part of the ongoing anti-corruption crusade in the country. The Federal Government is trying to deepen the anti-corruption war in the private sector, and it is believed that the banking sector is a very critical sector. This is why the CBN has been mandated to do this.”
Unconfirmed sources at the CBN said the directive followed a letter from the Code of Conduct Bureau asking the central bank to direct all bank employees to declare their assets with immediate effect.
“The directive is from the Code of Conduct Bureau. It is an extant rule. Before now, most people have not been complying. So the CCB wrote a letter to the CBN reminding it about it. This is why the CBN had to write the banks to comply,” a top official of the apex bank told our correspondent on condition of anonymity.
The spokesperson for the CCB, Mr. Muhammed Idris, did not respond to calls or a text message sent to his mobile telephone.
However, independent findings by our correspondent showed that the CCB’s scope of operations covers only political officeholders.
By law, the CCB is mandated to distribute assets declaration forms to the general public.
The Acting Director, Corporate Communications, CBN, Mr. Isaac Okoroafor, said the assets declaration was not a directive of the apex bank but a statutory requirement in line with the Bank Employees’ Declaration of Assets Act of 1986.
Asked why the CBN was enforcing its compliance at the moment, he said, “Why not now?”
The Bank Employees Declaration of Assets Act Cap B1 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 provides for asset declaration by all bank employees.
The Act also empowers the President to extend the application of the law to other categories of persons.