Panic and confusion gripped officials at the Code of Conduct Bureau after records relating to Bola Tinubu’s asset declaration suddenly disappeared from the vault that had held them for years.
According to Peoples Gazette, this has heralded the latest in desperate larcenies of incriminating documents that have been the lifeblood of Nigerian politics for decades.
The disappearance could frustrate ongoing corruption investigation into Tinubu’s asset by the EFCC, Nigeria’s frontline anti-corruption outfit, which has apparently ignored the embattled politician’s political ties to President Muhammadu Buhari.
Three officials familiar with the matter disclosed that the bureau 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.
Several offices have been rummaged at the bureau as officials scrambled to produce the documents for EFCC’s use — all to a dead end.
“We have searched for the case file everywhere because we want to comply with the lawful request made by the EFCC.
“We have not been able to find the documents either at the main head office or the annexe office in Asokoro,” a top management official at the bureau told our reporter.
Another official who interacted with one of the mid-level staffers tasked with finding the documents told the Gazette 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. We cannot even find photocopies that we can certify for the EFCC,” the official said.
Tinubu was the governor of Lagos from 1999-2007. Officials said he declared his asset when he assumed office and when he concluded his second term in May 2007.
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 said they’re now convinced by “institutional memory” that 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.
“His asset declaration form will not be the only reason for us to arrest and charge him.
But our detectives and lawyers working on the case said it is likely to be seriously incriminating,” an EFCC official said under anonymity over the weekend.