Bank, Insurance, Pension Workers May Soon Begin to Declare Assets… as Peller-Sponsored Bill’ Scales Through 2nd Reading
A bill seeking to make declaration of assets by bank, insurance and pension workers mandatory, as well as to prohibit them from operating foreign bank accounts has scaled through second reading on the floor of House of Representatives.
The bill, Bank Employees etc (Declaration of Assets) (Amendment) Bill 2021, sponsored by Shina Peller, is seeking to amend Bank Employees etc (Declaration of Assets) Act CAP. B1 Laws of the Federation 2004, which was enacted on the 26th September 1986 by the military regime of General Ibrahim B. Babangida (GCFR).
Leading the debate on the proposed bill, Peller, who represents Iseyin/Itesiwaju/Kajola/Iwajowa federal constituency, Oyo State, recalled that the policy behind the principal act was aimed at monitoring the activities of bank employees and Customs officers to ensure that their lifestyle reflect their earnings, and to discourage them from engaging in corrupt practices.
Peller argued that for the laws to serve their purposes effectively and efficiently, as society changes, it is important to amend the laws of the land to reflect the changes in such society.
He added that this informed his decision to come up with the amendment bill to reflect the prevailing situation in the country, enhance the fight against corruption, thereby strengthening the country’s economy.
Similarly, Peller explained that apart from its economic benefits, the bill if passed into law will address the following:
- The principal Act applies to only employees of banks and Customs Service. The Bill seeks to extend the application of the Act to employees of other financial institutions which have emerged as key players in the Nigerian financial sector over the years eg. Pension Fund Agencies, Insurance Firms, Stock brokers etc.
- The principal Act did not prohibit employees of Bank from having foreign accounts. The amendment Bill expressly prohibits employees of banks from operating foreign accounts.
- The principal Act applies to employees of the Customs Service. With the coming into effect of the 1999 constitution (as amended)on the 29th of May 1999, all public servants, including employees of the Customs Service declare their assets to the Code of Conduct Bureau. It would amount to duplication of the same duty, if employees of the Customs Service still declare their assets to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation as prescribed by the principal Act.The amendment Bill addresses this anomaly by removing the employees of the Customs Service from the employees which the principal Act applies to.
- Under the principal Act, it is only the assets of the bank employee concerned that will be declared in the form. The Act does not apply to the spouse and unmarried children under 18 years of the declarant, this Loophole may be exploited.
To address this, the Bill makes assets declaration by declarants to include the assets of their spouses and unmarried children less than 18 years old.
It would be recalled that the proposed bill had on Thursday, 22nd April 2021, passed through first reading on the floor of the House.
Oluwakayode Banjo/Adewumi Faniran