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Monday, December 2, 2013

FACTS: Against The Foreign Accounts Bill

ON Wednesday, November 20, 2013, the House of Representatives passed the second reading of a bunch of bills which, if they eventually become law, may see corruption in Nigeria go right through the roof and drain the nation’s treasury into foreign bank vaults.
Sponsored by Hons. Bamidele Faparusi, Udo Ibeji and Emmanuel Jime, the bills seek an act to amend the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, Cap. 15 LFN, 2004 to allow public officers to operate bank accounts outside Nigeria and other matters connected thereto.
In simple words, if the bills become law, the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal will no longer have the power to punish public officers for operating foreign accounts as they will now be free by law to do so. The promoters of the amendment stand logic on its head by saying that since public officers have continued to operate foreign accounts by proxy due to the ineffectiveness of the extant law, it might as well be thrown open.
We join the throng of well meaning Nigerians, especially lawyers, human rights groups, the media and some of the more conscientious federal legislators to say a loud and emphatic “NO” to this amendment. If the CCB is weak in implementing the law, it should be strengthened.
But if the current class of leaders are unwilling to strengthen the Bureau, one day a regime that will be willing to do so will surely come along, and the long arm of the law will still catch up with the offenders.
We live in a world where money laundering and looting of public treasuries are no longer as attractive as they used to be in the primitive past when foreign banks colluded with corrupt individuals and mafias from around the world to hide dirty money. Such moneys are, in fact, being returned to the countries from where they were stolen.
It will amount to swimming against the tide for our public officers to be permitted to take our money out of the country, even if legitimately.If this amendment passes, it will lead to massive capital flight. It will also open the floodgate for corruption, worsen the unemployment situation and heighten violent crimes and terrorism.
The laws must support efforts to ensure that Nigerian money is kept or invested in Nigeria to help in expanding economic opportunities.
The move to pass these bills is evil, unpatriotic and totally against the public interest. These are self-seeking bills that have nothing to do with credible representation. We call on the House and the Senate to kill the bills and focus efforts on strengthening the war on corruption and abuse of power by those elected to represent the ordinary citizens.
Source: Vanguard