The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called on the Code of Conduct Bureau to investigate current and past high-ranking public officers in Nigeria named in the Panama papers.
The call is contained in a statement issued by the group on Sunday in Abuja.
The statement which was signed by the Executive Director of SERAP, Mr Adetokunbo Mumuni, stated that gave CCB 14 days to carry out the investigation.
It said that anyone one found culpable should be sent to the tribunal for prosecution.
It added that if the bureau failed to investigate the cases, the group would not hesitate to use legal means to compel the bureau to discharge that constitutional responsibility.
“SERAP believes that the Panama Papers have shown the extent to which public officers in the country are concealing their stolen wealth in safe havens and secrecy jurisdictions.
“This is contrary to the code of conduct for public officers, which prohibits public officers from maintaining and operating foreign accounts.
“We request Mr Sam Saba, Chairman, Code of Conduct Bureau to use his good office and leadership to urgently investigate current and immediate past high-ranking public officers named in the Panama Papers.
“They should also investigate others that are maintaining and operating or have maintained and operated foreign accounts in other safe havens and secrecy jurisdictions, and where appropriate, refer such to Code of Conduct Tribunal for prosecution,” it said.
According to the statement, SERAP hopes that the bureau will learn from the lessons of the Panama Papers to combat the abuse of the asset declaration requirements.
It also insisted that high-ranking public officers who use safe havens and secrecy jurisdictions to breach the fundamental requirements of asset declaration must be sanctioned, named and shamed.
According to it, if this is not done, the credibility of the asset declaration regime as a tool of preventing and combating corruption will continue to be doubted.
“SERAP believes that bodies like the Code of Conduct Bureau should now seize the opportunity and use its mandate to react to this international scandal.
“They should take concrete and proactive steps to address increasing breaches of constitutional provisions by high-ranking public officers.
“This action will be entirely consistent with the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended), the law establishing the Bureau, and will meet demands by Nigerians for improvement in transparency regarding asset declarations and sanctions of public officers for breaches.”
The statement stressed that the importance of asset declaration could not be overemphasised as it could help in detecting illicit enrichment.
“Effective asset declaration regime can play an important role in detecting illicit enrichment, preventing corruption and avoiding the kind of international embarrassment that the Panama Papers represent for Nigeria.”(NAN)