By Unini Chioma – July 25, 2019
A civil society group, the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, on Wednesday proposed the transfer of the Code of Conduct Tribunal from the executive arm of government to the judiciary.
The group also proposed granting members of the public access to the asset declaration forms submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau by public officers.
These formed part of the CSLS’ proposed reforms in the criminal justice sector which it unveiled in Abuja.
The proposals were unveiled at the two-day ‘National Workshop on the Reform of the Criminal/Codes and the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act and the Provisions of the Constitution pertaining to the Code of Conduct for Public Officers’, organised by the CSLS.
The project, funded by MacArthur Foundation, brought together stakeholders from the civil society and various agencies of government, including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Office of the Head of Service, the Code of Conduct Bureau, the CCT, and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission.
The organiser of the event, which started on Wednesday and will end on Thursday, seeks the stakeholders’ inputs and eventual ratification of its draft bills on the Criminal/Codes and the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act and the relevant provisions of the Constitution to prevent graft.
In his opening remark on Wednesday, the CSLS President, Prof. Yemi Akinseye-George (SAN), regretted that there had been no improvement in the Code of Conduct for Public Officers introduced into the Constitution in 1979 by the then military regime, adding that the code had remained substantially the same in the later promulgated 1999 Constitution as it was under the 1979 Constitution.
He faulted “the highly centralised structure of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal; and the placement of the bureau and tribunal under the executive” as contained in the 1999 Constitution.
He also faulted what he described as “the inadequate provisions for asset declaration, verification and public access,” noting that it undermined the effectiveness of the code of conduct system as a machinery for preventing corruption and promoting accountability and transparency.
A bill proposed by the group now seeks the input of the National Judicial Council in the appointment and removal of the CCT chairman and the members.
It also seeks to raise the number of members of the tribunal from three to 110 to enable the tribunal to sit in threes in the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory.
The group by its other bill seeks to harmonise the “substantive criminal laws embodied in the Penal Code (applicable in the Northern states) and the Criminal Code (applicable in the Southern states)” to bring them to conformity with the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.