According to sources in the industry, the regulator wrote a circular to the management of commercial banks, which stated that all bank employees are required to declare their assets.
A senior manager of a tier one lender, who asked not to be named, said the bank’s management had instructed that the asset declaration by employees would be done in phases with staff from the position of managers and above being the first to fill the forms, to be followed by junior employees. He said: “I have seen the forms, although I’m yet to fill them. But I will do so before Friday this week as we were given only a week to complete and submit them.”
Similarly, a middle level staff of another tier one bank confirmed that every employee, including cleaners, has been directed to fill and return the asset declaration forms. “I’m yet to collect my forms, but the management has said that everyone is expected to fill and return them. Even cleaners are not exempted. We don’t know the reason for the directive, but of course we have no choice but to comply. I suspect that it must be related to what is happening in the wider economy,” the bank official told New Telegraph.
A bank source familiar with the issue revealed that the asset declaration by bank employees was an initiative of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC). According to him, the CBN was only acting at the behest of the Commission. The source further disclosed that he doubted if many bank employees would be able to comply with the directive, as there were issues with the format of the asset declaration forms prepared by the ICPC.
According to the source, “The forms cannot be completed electronically and they are up to nine pages long. They also contain the names of some defunct banks. Besides, the ICPC had stated that the completed forms must get to it by June 30 and I don’t think any bank was able to meet that deadline.”
Commenting on concerns expressed in some quarters about whether it was legal for the Federal Government to mandate citizens working in the private sector to declare their assets, a legal practitioner, Mr. Patrick Halim, told New Telegraph that the action was backed by the Bank Employees Declaration of Assets Act, which was enacted in 1986, but incorporated under the laws of the Federation 2004.”
His words: “The provisions of the Act say that each bank’s management will compile the assets declaration forms filled by its staff and submit to either the President or Secretary of the Federation. So the law has been there, the government must have its reasons for wanting bank employees to comply with it at this time.”
Financial analysts believe that the directive is part of the Federal Government’s campaign to combat corruption and boost transparency in the public and private sectors. It will be recalled that the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) had, last January, directed its personnel to make full disclosure of their assets.
A statement from the Customs Public Relations Officer, Wale Adeniyi, explained that the directive on assets declaration was in compliance with “The Bank Employees Declaration of Assets Act Cap B1 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”
“Though the Act provides for asset declaration by all bank employees, it also empowers the president to extend this application to other categories of persons,” he added. The Nigerian Army had also compelled soldiers to declare their assets. Just last week, the Inspector-General Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, declared that all police officers must declare their assets.