By Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The issuance of the certificate of assets verification and clearance to the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. General Tukur Buratai, by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) has put to rest the controversy over his alleged acquisition of property in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), a lawyer, Ugochukwu Osuagwu has said.
Addressing journalists in Abuja yesterday, the lawyer, who was the first to demand Buratai’s assets declaration form from CCB, contended that issuance of the verification certificate implied that Buratai had complied with all known laws in the country as regards assets declaration by public officers and was exempted from any liability of criminal prosecution.
The CCB had in a statement by its Chairman, Sam Saba, on September 29, 2016, named Buratai among 15 public officers whose assets had been verified and issued with the “certificate of conference verification and filed verification.”
Implying that the certificate exempts those on which it is issued from liability of criminal prosecution, Saba was quoted to have added that “even though the tribunal (Code of Conduct Tribunal) is the institution with the power to adjudicate in asset declaration breaches, the certificate means that from our own end, we are satisfied with the verification that we have done.”
Osuagwu, who noted that Buratai had set a good example by being the first COAS to direct all officers of the Nigerian army to declare their assets, said he (Buratai) declared his assets in May 2015 while he was the Commander, Multinational Joint Task force, following which he declared again in July 25 on his appointment as the COAS.
“It is interesting to note that Buratai, who was previously cleared by the CCB, has again been cleared after the CCB completed its verification of asset declaration of Buratai by its officers.
“Note that upon satisfactory completion of the exercise, public officers are issued with certificate of assets conference verification/filed verification as the case may be. With the issuance of satisfactory verification to Buratai, it therefore closes every chapter on the vexed issue whether he declared the said Dubai flat.
“For a serving public officer to be cleared twice by law enforcement agencies, it shows that Buratai is a clean officer and has nothing to hide,” Osuagwu said.
The lawyer said he had earlier this year, acting under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) 2011, demanded the contents of the assets declaration form completed and submitted to the CCB by Buratai.
He added that the CCB responded in a letter dated July 11, 2016, signed by Mrs. Ijeanuli Arinze Ofor, with reference number:” CCB/Hq/671/G/1/6” to the effect that the COAS did declare the Dubai property.
Osuagwu urged those who before now, doubted the integrity of the COAS to have a change of heart and desist from acts and utterances capable of casting Buratai and other public officers in bad light.