OrderPaperToday- The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), and other stakeholders have declared support for a bill seeking to make employees of financial institutions declare their assets.

The proposed legislation will also see spouses and children under 18 years of the employees declare their assets as part of efforts to curb corruption in the sector.

However, the EFCC wants bank employees and other financial institutions to declare their assets directly to the Commission for transparency and better accountability.

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These and other positions were given on Thursday at a public hearing on ‘A Bill for an Act to Amend the Bank Employees Act etc (Declaration of Asset Act Cap. B1, Law of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to reflect the prevailing situation in the country and for related matters. HB.1303.’

Chief of Staff to the EFCC Chairman, Hadiza Lawal Zubairu, who represented him at the hearing insisted that the Commission was the right agency to handle such. She said that the EFCC should be designated as the appropriate authority to receive the assets’ declaration by bank employees.

The EFCC wants the title of the Bill to be changed from bank employees to financial institutions and financial employees to widen its scope.

She said the EFCC supports the declaration of assets of spouses and children of employees, adding that people use such avenues for money laundering.

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According to the EFCC representative, “As it relates to the appropriate authority (in the principal act) the EFCC is seeking to be the appropriate authority to receive this declaration in relation to the properties of spouses of financial institutions of employees of the bank.

The EFCC supports that position because if you are looking at the issues at hand, issues of money laundering, and designated authorities each and everybody becomes a part and parcel of that. The individual, spouse, children, the associates are all part of it.

If you look at where we are all asked to declare our assets before the Code of Conduct Bureau, we are being required to declare the assets of our children as well. We feel that this should remain as it is,” she stated.

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Deputy Director, Legal Department at the CCB, Peter Danladi, while supporting the Bill, however, recommended that “some aspects of the amendment need to be adjusted for the purpose and interest of the government and the people.

Equally, the Nigeria Labour Congress in its presentation opposed the bill seeking to make bank employees and their spouses declare assets.

NLC Director of Research, Dr. Onoho’Omhen Ebhohimhen, argued that the Code of Conduct law applies strictly to public officers elected or appointed to political offices, and not workers whether in the financial services sector or other areas of economic production.

“It is difficult to support the amendments. It is important to state that bank employees are workers and do not own the banks where they work or any means of production. As workers, they necessarily sell their labour power – physical and intellectual labour- to their employers,” he said.

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The Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) in its presentation recommended that the extension of the requirements to declare assets to spouses and unmarried children under 18 years should be deleted from the amendment bill and should be limited to assets of bank employees alone.

Recall that during the bill’s second reading on the floor of the House, the sponsor Francis Waive said “We know the challenge today in our country with internet fraud and banking.

The amendment of this Act is meant to achieve two things: first is to ensure that banks have up-to-date data yearly records of their staff such that when there is an infraction, it is easy to trace the staff (member) who is involved.

We are in days when bank fraud has increased, with “Yahoo business’ (Internet fraud) that the young people are doing.

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“More importantly, it is to increase the punishment for bank staff (members) who are involved in fraudulent activities in customers’ accounts.

The aim here is to increase punishment (from 10 years) up to 20 years imprisonment, to serve as a deterrent so that this upsurge we are seeing today in fraudulent activities in bank accounts is brought to a minimum or eliminated completely.”

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