The Senate on Tuesday introduced a Bill to amend the Act establishing the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) allegedly with the aim of guaranteeing its independence.
The Bill entitled, “Code of Conduct Act Cap C15 LFN 2004 (amendment) Bill, 2016 (SB 248)” and sponsored by Senator Peter Nwaboshi (PDP, Delta State) passed the first reading at Tuesday’s plenary.
Independent gathered that the Bill might be passed for second reading before the end of the week.
In an interview, Nwaboshi disclosed that the main objective of the Bill was to save Nigerians from falling victim of political manipulation.
However, he said the plan was to either transfer the power of control over the CCT and CCB to the Judiciary or the National Assembly with the power to remove the chairman of the CCT and CCB and its members.
Dr. Bukola Saraki, Senate President, is currently undergoing trial at the CCT over allegations of refusal to declare his asset properly while he was the governor of Kwara State.
Speaking on why the decision to amend the establishment Act of the CCT was taken, he said: ”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 the CCT is a court of some sort; it must be seen to be neutral in nature and not to report to a politician.
“What we intend by the bill is 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. 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.
He explained that the intent was not because of what is happening to the Senate President now but because they 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,” he said.
Nwaboshi said the second motive of the bill was to put a time frame to investigation and trial of public office holders on asset declaration.
He said: “The CCB Act says 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.”