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Why banks staff cannot declare assets – NLC

The Nigerian Labour Congress NLC, says it is not feasible for workers in banks to declare their assets.

The NLC spoke at a public hearing on a bill seeking to amend the bank employees (declaration of assets) act 2004 conducted by the House of Representatives Committee on Financial Crimes.

Represented by its Head of Research, Dr Onoho’Omhen Ebhohimhen at the hearing, the NLC said bank workers are not public officers.

He said: “Employees in the banking and other financial institutions are not public officers. It is important to say that workers do not own banks and are not directors of banks. Workers in the bank see their labour-power and in return, they are paid wages. Therefore, we say that clause 3 which seeks to bring workers in the financial institutions including banks as if they are public officers need to be corrected because those workers are not public officers and cannot be classified as pubic officers. They are not elected; they are not appointed.

Similarly, the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN, represented by its Acting Director of Banking Supervisions, Abubakar Shebe agreed that while those in the public sector were affected by the provision, those in the private sector cannot be compelled to declare their assets.

The chairman of the Legal Advisers in the Banking Industry; representatives of the Body of Banks’ Chief Executive Officers, a committee of the Chartered Institute of Bankers in Nigeria; Sesan Sobowale said that it may not be easy for bank staff to identify whether their spouse owned assets or not.

However, in their presentation, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC said it was necessary to amend the act.

Represented by the Chief of Staff to the Chairman of the commission, Mrs Hadiza Zubairu, stated that the Commission is the appropriate agency to handle the proposed assets declaration of bank employees.

The EFCC also declared its support for spouses of bank employees to also be made to declare their assets, saying when dealing with money laundering, everybody is involved.

Declaring the hearing open, the speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila who was represented by the House leader, Ado Doguwa said since the passage of the principal Act, the banking sector has changed and will continue to change from what it was at that time.

The Acting Chairman of the committee, Alh Babangida Ibrahim, decried the absence of several government agencies at the hearing, saying such practice would not help the parliament and by extension the country.

According to him, out of 28 agencies invited, only 7 honoured the call.

Reporting by Ibrahim Shehu, Editing by Omotola Oguneye