The recent ‘declare your assets order’ to bank workers by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has continued to raise dust with stakeholders faulting the policy.
Bankers under the aegis of the Association of Senior Staff for Banks, Insurance and other Financial Institutions (ASSBIFI) and National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees (NUBIFE) say the anti-graft should focus on the managing directors of banks and other agencies of government instead of the junior workers.
The new EFCC Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, had last Tuesday announced that the Commission would from June 1 be demanding the asset declaration forms of bankers.
Bawa explained that the decision was in line with the provisions of the Bank Employees Declaration of Asset Act.
Speaking yesterday, the President, Association of Senior Staff for Banks, Insurance and other Financial Institutions (ASSBIFI), Comrade Oyinkansola Olasanoye, said the anti-graft agency was merely playing to the gallery.
He said: “As bank workers, we do not have any issue with the EFCC investigating the banks but asking bank workers to declare their assets is just trying to enforce an order already in existence.
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“Every year, bank workers declare their assets by filling a form which is sent to the CBN for scrutiny. We have been doing that for almost five years now.
“So, for the EFCC Chairman to now wake up and ask the same of us is only an admission the EFCC is not doing its work.
“EFCC has the right to investigate the top management and board of directors of banks but ordinary workers who are diligently carrying out their responsibilities as professionals should be exempted.”
On the possibility of challenging the order in court, the ASSBIFI boss said the union is watching events as they unfold and would decide on the next line of action if need be.
Echoing similar sentiments, the Deputy General Secretary, NUBIFIE, Sola Aboderin, said: “We are not against any policy of the government to checkmate fraudulent activities either in the financial institutions or the country as a whole.
“But what we are concerned about is why single out banks? What about the Nigerian Ports Authority, NNPC (Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation) and other organisations?
“Why are they particular about banks? We are not saying they should not check the illegality in the transfer of funds but why focus on banks?”
“Another thing is that they said bank workers. Now, who are the bank workers? They should go to CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria) and ask who are the bank workers? The CBN has said that about 90 per cent of those working in banks are not bank workers.
“So, if you are saying tellers, marketers and others are not bank workers, then fine. In that case, they (EFCC) should focus on the MDs (managing directors) of banks.”
He added: “I’m telling you that if you enter into the branch of any bank today, hardly will you find more than three or four people working as real staff of the bank. The rest are outsourced staff.
Also reacting to the EFCC’s order, Mazi Okechukwu Unegbu, lawyer, arbitrator and stockbroker said the agency was merely grandstanding.
Unegbu who is former President/Chairman of the Council of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), acknowledged that most banks these days are peopled mostly by outsourced workers who work on an ad hoc basis.
The onetime Chairman/Chief Executive at Broad Bank and Citizens Bank (both defunct) said asking such a category of bank staff with little or no stake in the business to declare their assets was a clear waste of time and resources.
The EFCC, Unegbu maintained, must step up its investigative processes and put searchlights on banks suspected to be involved in any kind of sleaze.