Officials at the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) are in panic mode after records relating to former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu’s asset declaration suddenly disappeared from the storage facility that has held them for years.
The disappearance of the case file might frustrate corruption investigation into Tinubu’s asset by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
It was gathered that the CCB started looking for Tinubu’s asset filings after the EFCC requested copies as part of an ongoing investigation into the former Lagos governor’s financial and material possessions.
“We have searched for the case file everywhere because we want to comply with the lawful request made by the EFCC,” a top management official at the bureau told PeoplesGazette. “We have not been able to find the documents either at the main head office or the annexe office in Asokoro.”
Another official who interacted with one of the mid-level staffers tasked with finding the documents said the matter had become “terribly embarrassing” and a cause for unending worry at the bureau, which is the primary anti-corruption agency in charge of collecting and keep assets of schedule government officials before and after assumption of office.
“We cannot find the asset documents at all,” the official said. “We cannot even find photocopies that we can certify for the EFCC.”
Anti-graft agencies had previously investigated and charged Tinubu on the basis of the documents in 2011, but the Code of Conduct Tribunal, which primarily hears cases brought by the bureau, dismissed the matter on technical grounds, leaving the merit of the case floating for nearly a decade. No further charges had been preferred against the ruling party chief ever since.
But as he prepares to seek Nigeria’s presidency in 2023, anti-corruption officials told the Gazette they’re now convinced by “institutional memory” that Mr. Tinubu’s asset filings were incriminating and must revisit the matter to prevent “another rogue” from assuming power in a country still reeling from decades of infamy.
Although the EFCC has yet to escalate the disappearance of Tinubu’s asset filings to the presidency, concerns have nonetheless been flaring amongst top officials of the CCB, an official said. While some officials believed the document might have been stolen by an intruder, others blamed “an inside job” for the development, citing its security.
“Tinubu’s file is one of the VVIP files that is kept with either the chairman or someone he trusts immensely,” an official said. “So claiming that it was stolen from an outsider at the time the EFCC is requesting for it is just so convenient.”
The official said an internal investigation has yet to commence about the disappearance, but the EFCC might be forced to report the CCB, which is a department under the federal cabinet secretary’s office.
“We don’t know how many palms have been oiled to make a sensitive document disappeared from our vault,” the CCB chief said. “We are not going to blame Tinubu for it because he did not come in here to snatch it from us, some people were used.”
The letter marked: CR/3000/EFCC/LS/Vol4/322, dated November 6, 2020, was signed by the then Lagos zonal head, Abdulrasheed Bawa, who is now the Chairman of the EFCC.
In the letter by the EFCC, the commission had said, “In view of the above, you are kindly requested to furnish the commission with the outstanding requested information of Bola Ahmed Adekunle Tinubu.
“This request is made pursuant to Section 38(1) and (2) of the EFCC Act 2004.”
However, a senior EFCC official confirmed the letter’s authenticity, adding that it was part of a broader probe.
The official, who wished to remain anonymous, said the probe was a sequel to some petitions written against Tinubu since 2018, which Magu had failed to act on.
The source said, “The letter is authentic. The EFCC receives several petitions against Tinubu, including one involving alleged fraud in Alpha Beta Consulting.”
Reacting, Tinubu had said he has not received any letter from the CCB seeking his asset declaration form.
The media aide to the former governor, Tunde Rahman, said the EFCC has also not invited Tinubu for any questioning.
He said he has no knowledge about such a letter, adding that any details about such a letter if it was indeed written, were with the CCB, and not with his principal.
“All the reports say that the EFCC wrote a letter to the CCB, seeking information about Asiwaju’s declaration form. Why don’t you contact the CCB if any such letter was written to us? I don’t know; I don’t have any reaction to that. Contact the CCB if the letter was written to them,” he said.