The Code of Conduct Bureau is not an ordinary statutory body created by an Act of the National Assembly.
Image: The author
It is one of the Federal Executive Bodies created by Section 153 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
Indeed, the Code of Conduct Bureau is listed as the first Federal Executive Body by the framers of Section 153 subsection 1 (a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (supra).
For the purpose of emphasis and clarity, and beg leave to reproduce Section 153 subsection 1 of the Constitution thus:
“There shall be established for the Federation the following bodies, namely:
(a) Code of Conduct Bureau;
(b) Council of State;
(c) Federal Character Commission;
(d) Federal Civil Service Commission;
(e) Federal Judicial Service Commission;
(f) Independent National Electoral Commission;
(g) National Defence Council;
(h) National Economic Council;
(i) National Judicial Council;
(j) National Population Commission;
(k) National Security Council;
(l) Nigeria Police Council;
(m) Police Service Commission; and
(n) Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission’’.
The Chairman and members of any of the bodies so established shall, subject to the provisions of this Constitution, be appointed by the President and the appointment shall be subject to confirmation by the Senate except in the case of ex officio members or where other provisions are made in the Constitution.
The composition and powers of each body (enumerated above) established by Section 153 subsection (1) of the Constitution are as provided in Sections 1, 2, 3 & 4 of Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the Constitution thus:
‘’1.’The Code of Conduct Bureau shall comprise the following members:
(a) a Chairman; and
(b) nine other members, each of whom, at the time of appointment, shall not be less than fifty years of age and subject to the provisions of section 157 of this Constitution shall vacate his office on attaining the age of seventy years.
2. The Bureau shall establish such offices in each state of the Federation as it may require for the discharge of its functions under this Constitution.
3. The Bureau shall have power to:
(a) receive declarations by public officers made under paragraph 12 of Part I of the Fifth Schedule to this Constitution;
(b) examine the declarations in accordance with the requirements of the Code of Conduct or any law;
(c) retain custody of such declarations and make them available for inspection by any citizen of Nigeria on such terms and conditions as the National Assembly may prescribe;
(d) ensure compliance with and, where appropriate, enforce the provisions of the Code of Conduct of any law relating thereto;
(e) receive complaints about non-compliance with or breach of the provisions of the Code of Conduct or any law in relation thereto, investigate the complaint and, where appropriate, refer such matters to the Code of Conduct Tribunal;
(f) appoint, promote, dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over the staff of the Codes of Conduct Bureau in accordance with the provisions of an Act of the National Assembly enacted in that behalf; and
(g) carry out such other functions as may be conferred upon it by the National Assembly…’’
Consequently, the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act contemplated by Section 3 (e) of Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the Constitution was enacted by the National Assembly.
The preamble of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act reads thus:
“An Act to provide for the establishment of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal to deal with complaints of corruption by public servants for the breaches of its provisions’’.
It stands to reason therefore that the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act derives it fountain, legitimacy, legality and efficacy from Section 3 € of Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (supra).
It also goes without saying that any attempt to amend the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act without complying with the procedure and processes for amendment of the Constitution is dead on arrival.
It follows that the spirited efforts made by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and his cohorts in the Senate to amend the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act in order to create an escape route for Dr. Saraki (who is standing trial for corruption before the Code of Conduct Tribunal) tantamount to an illegal attempt to amend the Constitution o the Federal Republic of Nigeria through the back door.
It is well settled that one of the hall marks of a Federal system (such as Nigeria) is that the procedure for amendment of its Constitution is always made difficulty and cumbersome.
Accordingly, the procedure and processes for amendment of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (supra) is elaborately laid and spell out in Section 9 subsections 1, 2, 3 & 4 of the Constitution thus:
“(1) The National Assembly may, subject to the provision of this section, alter any of the provisions of this Constitution.
(2) An Act of the National Assembly for the alteration of this Constitution, not being an Act to which section 8 of this Constitution applies, shall not be passed in either House of the National Assembly unless the proposal is supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds majority of all the members of that House and approved by resolution of the Houses of Assembly of not less than two-thirds of all the States.
(3) An Act of the National Assembly for the purpose of altering the provisions of this section, section 8 or Chapter IV of this Constitution shall not be passed by either House of the National Assembly unless the proposal is approved by the votes of not less than four-fifths majority of all the members of each House, and also approved by resolution of the House of Assembly of not less than two-third of all States.
(4) For the purposes of section 8 of this Constitution and of subsections (2) and (3) of this section, the number of members of each House of the National Assembly shall, notwithstanding any vacancy, be deemed to be the number of members specified in sections 48 and 49 of this Constitution’’.
A lot of Nigerians have expressed misgivings, apprehension and sadness on the brazen attempt by the Senate to amend the Constitution just to satisfy the whims and caprices of the Senate President, Dr. Saraki!
I want to assure Nigerians the efforts to amend the Constitution by Dr. Saraki and cohorts is an exercise in futility and therefore bound to fail.
Even if the Constitution is successfully amended, it would not provide an escape for Dr. Saraki. This is because it is the Law that was in existence when the criminal act was allegedly committed that would be applicable to the trial of Dr. Saraki.
In this wise, it is the provisions of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, 2004 that would be applicable to the trial of Dr. Saraki not a subsequent Law.