The Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), has petitioned the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), demanding an investigation the prosecution of a former Senate President David Mark over constitutional violations and false declaration of assets during his tenure.
In a petition to the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau, and signed by the CSNAC Chairman Olanrewaju Suraju, the group said the alleged linkage of Mr. Mark, to at least eight offshore shell companies while holding public office in violation of the federal code of conduct laws. The discovery was made by the major international leak of financial documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.
According to the Premium Times, "as a former senate president, Mr. Mark stands out among other notable Nigerians named in the files." The paper further averred, "the 68-year old former military officer spent the last 40 years covered by the investigation largely as public office holder. But he is widely seen to be far richer than his legitimate incomes could have provided."
Senator Mark is Nigeria’s immediate past Senate President and current Senator representing Benue South senatorial district of Benue State and he has been in the senate since 1999.
According to the Premium Times, files "show that Mr. Mark is one of Nigeria’s most extensive users of offshore shell companies, even while being a public official." He was linked to eight active companies registered in the British Virgin Island. These companies are Sikera Overseas S.A, Colsan Enterprises Limited, Goldwin Transworld Limited, Hartland Estates Limited, Marlin Holdings Limited, Medley Holdings Limited, Quetta Properties Limited, and Centenary Holdings Limited.
"In the documents accessed, Mr. Mark was repeatedly marked as a politically exposed person by Mosseca Fonseca. It remains unclear what businesses Mr. Mark is conducting with the companies. Meanwhile, owning or maintaining interest in private companies while serving as a public official is against Nigerian laws."
The group said if the allegations against Mark are true, the lawmaker has contravened Section 6(b) of the Code of Conduct Act which says a public office holder shall not, “except where he is not employed on full‐time basis, engage or participate in the management or running of any private business, profession or trade”.
It noted further that, "It emerged in March 2005, during a messy divorce case with his ex-wife, Victoria, that the immediate past President of the Senate violated Nigerian law by operating foreign accounts while holding public office.
"Court papers in London showed that in the early 2000s, Mr. Mark operated foreign accounts, having about six million pounds in four accounts – three at the Northern Bank, Isle of Man, and one at the Allied Irish Bank, Jersey.
"The funds were frozen in October 2000 as a result of the ancillary relief sought by Victoria in the couple’s divorce case. Mr. Mark’s operation of those accounts while a Senator is a violation of Nigerian law which bars public officials from operating foreign accounts while in office.
"From the foregoing, this is a clear case of abuse of powers and breach of provisions of Code of Conduct for public officers. Paragraph 9, Part 1 of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers under the 5th Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) which provides as follows:
“A public officer shall not do or direct to be done, in abuse of his office, any arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights of any other person knowing that such act is unlawful or contrary to any government policy.”
Section Three (Part 1) of the Fifth Schedule of the Nigerian Constitution says, “The President, Vice -President, Governor, Deputy Governor, Ministers of the Government of the Federation and Commissioners of the Governments of the States, members of the National Assembly and of the Houses of Assembly of the States, and such other public officers or persons as the National Assembly may by law prescribe shall not maintain or operate a bank account in any country outside Nigeria.”
"The Code of Conduct Bureau, vested with the responsibility of prosecuting public officers who violate this law, has however turned a blind eye to the development. CSNAC is by this petition demanding the immediate prosecution of Senator Mark for the violations of above stated provisions of the constitution," the group noted.