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Asset Declaration: Bank owners, workers jittery as EFCC issues ultimatum, jail term risk

Bank owners and their workers nationwide are currently in a jittery mood as the demand by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for their asset declaration forms takes effect from June 1, 2021

The anti-graft agency had issued the warning on the banks on March 16 this year, insisting that from June 1, 2021 it would be compulsory for all bank owners, their workers and other operatives in Nigeria to make their authenticated asset declaration forms available to the agency in compliance with the 1986 Bank Employees Declaration of Assets Act.

The Chairman of the EFCC, Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa, is, therefore, insisting that with effect from June 1, it will be an offence for bank workers not to present on demand their asset declaration forms to the agency.

According to Section 7 (2) of the Act, any banker who refuses to disclose their assets on demand risks being jailed up to ten years on conviction.

The law says: “Any employee guilty of an offence under subsection (1) of this Section shall on conviction be liable to imprisonment for ten years and shall, in addition, forfeit the excess assets or its equivalent in money to the Federal Government”.

Section 1 of the Act makes it mandatory for every employee of a Bank to make full disclosure of assets upon employment, and annually in subsequent years.

Although the bankers are yet to fully comply with the order issued by the EFCC since March 16 this year, the commission said in its ‘EFCC Alert’, its quarterly Magazine, that the commission was serious in implementing the law with effect from Tuesday (June 1, 2021).

“All we are saying is that come June 1, we are going to be demanding for it (assets declaration forms).

“We want to look at it vis-à-vis other information that we have. It is something that as an institution we have resolved to do. Of course we expect stiff resistance, but we are determined,” Bawa said.

But with the June 1 ‘deadline’ just by the corner, there is trepidation in the banking sector amid permutations about the possible scenarios in the coming weeks.

On Monday, it was gathered that there was apprehension in the banking sector especially among those who are yet to tidy up their assets record, going by the history of the EFCC and the banking sector in Nigeria, which sent many bank officials to the prison and forced others to close shop.

Notably, two former bank executives have been jailed while others are still in court, battling to extricate their necks from the intricate web of fraud charges filed against them by the EFCC.

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