It is always good to start any fight from the top, so that all others will see that there is indeed no sacred cow. That is what is playing out today and, all things being equal, Nigeria will be better for it.
Indications her emerged that many rich politicians have begun to lobby the Code of Conduct Bureau in a bid to amend some information in the asset declaration forms that they had earlier submitted.
This is due to fear of arrest following the ongoing trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki at the Tribunal over alleged false declaration of assets from 2003 till 2015.
Unfortunately, for the corrupt politicians, it is too late to change the asserts they claimed they have.
Investigation by PUNCH showed that state CCB offices have become busier following Saraki’s ordeal.
For instance, sources in the CCB office in Delta State disclosed that some politicians, including senators and members of the House of Reps, have been lobbying officials of the bureau to grant them permission to amend the asset declaration forms they had submitted.
According to the source, politicians in the state had until now taken the exercise for granted, believing that they could never be prosecuted over it.
The source said that President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption stance and the trial of Saraki at the CCT seemed to have jolted the politicians.
Confirming that politicians have begun lobbying CCB officials, the source, who did not want to be named, added that officials of the bureau have recently had to take their security more seriously as a result of the fresh attention drawn to it by Saraki’s prosecution.
The source said, “The Saraki trial has caused politicians to become jittery. They have been gripped by fear of arrest because of the recent political events and some of them have been secretly visiting our offices to lobby some of us. They include senators and members of the House of Representatives.
“Some of the politicians that have been coming are highly placed. Before now, they took everything for granted, knowing that they are in the same party with the government at the centre. With the recent developments, many of them are now rushing to amend the information given on their asset declaration forms.
“They say there might be errors in their forms and that they are willing to make the necessary adjustments.”
Also, politicians in Ondo State have been approaching officials of CCB to assist them in amending the forms they had submitted to the bureau.
One of the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said some politicians in the state, who were believed to have lied about their assets in the disclosure forms, have been pleading with officials of the bureau to allow them to review their information.
He said, “Some of them have been coming to us to amend some information on their forms, but there is nothing we can do about their request, because the forms had already been forwarded to Abuja and there is no way we can retrieve them again, at least from our own end here. I don’t know of any other means.”
The source, however, denied that officials of the bureau have been conniving with politicians to cover up for those who declared false assets, saying, “That is criminal, everybody is now very careful. This is an era of change and nobody wants to play with his job again.”
In Rivers State, a CCB official described politicians lobbying the bureau’s officials as a waste of time.
The source said, “We have their (politicians) slips and completed forms, which have already been sent to the CCB in Abuja. Since the politicians had already sworn to oaths that whatever they filled in the forms as their assets is correct, they cannot come for amendments.
“It (amending or altering asset declaration) is not right; it is not possible and it is a criminal offence. It is not possible for any of us here to be involved in anything like that.”