…Says time doesn’t run out on criminal investigation
…Leaders liable for crimes committed by subordinates – Gov Obiano
…Adeosun clarifies letter to Magu, says no ulterior motive
In what can be described as a clarion call for transparency and accountability, the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, has handed down a stern warning to public office holders against betraying public trust and join the war against corruption.
According to Magu, betrayal of public trust “is the worst crime a public officer can commit against the people.”
The acting Chairman of EFCC gave the warning in Awka, the Anambra State capital, at the weekend, during a two-day retreat organised by Anambra State Governor Willie Obiano to tune up his incoming cabinet for high performance and building an enduring legacy of visionary governance in the state.
Magu, who spoke on the topic titled, “A New Dawn: Expectations from the Public Sector,” addressed the incoming commissioners and special advisers as well as the governor’s principal officers on the imperatives of avoiding the banana peels in the Nigerian public service.
The EFCC boss added that the service component of every public office holder is enshrined in the SERVICOM charter which tasks every public officer with ensuring quick, efficient and effective service to the citizenry in line with the principles of public accountability.
He pointed out that the man on the street sees government essentially as the public officers who owe him transparency and accountability, saying that, “Betrayal of public trust is the worst crime a public officer can commit against the people.
The anti-corruption czar reminded the members of the soon to be inaugurated Exco that ‘vicarious liability’ is a clear and present threat to top public officers who may be called out of their retirement to account for the criminal actions of their subordinates.
“Have at the back of your mind that time does not run out on criminal investigation,” he warned.
Offering a comprehensive rundown of the ‘don’ts’ of the Nigerian public life, the EFCC boss observed that a pre-condition for life as a public officer is to purge oneself of all vices that may negatively influence one’s conduct, pointing out that eliminating all likely sources of a conflict of interest was a good beginning for a peaceful public life.
Magu further warned that, “The 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Public Service Rules have made it mandatory for public officers to declare beforehand, all personal interests. And where such interests may negatively affect the discharge of your official functions, divest yourself of such interests or simply excuse yourself from the discharge of that function.”
The EFCC boss also reminded the audience of the need to raise the red flag whenever there is a clear indication of a breach of due process in the system, pointing out that ‘it is a crime not to report a crime.’
Offering insights into the Code of Conduct for Public Officers, Magu observed that it was a crime for a public officer to hold two jobs for which remuneration is made while in office or operate a bank account in any country outside Nigeria.
He also warned that “a public officer is prohibited from asking and accepting property or benefits of any kind for himself or any other person on account of anything done or omitted to be done by him in the discharge of his duties and further.”
Magu further read out the portion that addresses the incubus of bribery directly, saying that “no persons shall offer a public officer any property, gift or benefit of any kind as an inducement or bribe for the granting of any favour or the discharge in his favour of the public officer’s duties.”
In his remarks, at the occasion, Governor Obiano said that leaders should be liable for the crimes committed by their subordinates under their watch.
Obiano noted that Anambra State was ahead in many of the campaigns mounted by the EFCC and that whistle-blowing had been in practice in the state for quite some time.
The governor also assured the EFCC boss that he had great confidence in his team but that he believed that Magu’s “presence at the retreat would help the team to do better.”
Obiano while thanking Magu for making out time to participate in the retreat, warned that as leaders, team members should be mindful of the fact that they were vicariously liable for the crimes committed by their subordinates under their watch.
The governor said, “So, keep an eye on the people under you. Don’t say, I was not part of it. Always be careful. If you see a crime, report it.”
Meanwhile, the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, has given clarification on her letter to Magu on recovered funds, saying that there was no hidden motive, contrary to report in some sections of the media which the minister said ‘misrepresented her.’
Adeosun further argued that the media reports misrepresented her innocuous letter to Magu on cash recoveries by the Federal Government.
The minister added that Magu had subsequently provided the requested information, saying that reconciliation is ongoing.
Speaking on the propriety of the letter dated February 9, 2018, the Senior Special Adviser to the Minister on Media and Publicity, Oluyinka Akintunde, said , ” The letter was a standard letter aimed at improving controls over the recovered funds.
“There is no ulterior motive behind the letter as alleged in some media reports but to enable the reconciliation and harmonisation of the figures on recovered funds by the Government.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the EFCC has subsequently provided the requested information and reconciliation is ongoing.”