The chair of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, and other officials of the commission, on Tuesday, took fresh official oaths.
A statement by EFCC’s spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, said the oath taking was in line with the Official Secrets Act, and the newly adopted Document Classification Policy of the agency.
The step is believed be aimed at curbing unauthorised leakage of information in the commission.
But Mr Uwujaren stated that the officials, in taking the oath, pledged among others, to perform their duties diligently and honestly.
“As part of ongoing reform efforts to improve efficient delivery of its mandate, officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, today May 18, 2021 took fresh official oaths, pledging among others, to perform their duties diligently and honestly.
“The Executive Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa led other categories of staff to take the oath in compliance with the Official Secrets Act and the newly adopted Document Classification Policy of the commission,” the statement read.
Official Secrets Act
The Official Secrets Act, which came into force in 1962, among others, prohibits a person from transmitting “any classified matter to a person to whom he is not authorised on behalf of the government to transmit it.”
It also bars a person from obtaining, reproducing or retaining “any classified matter which he is not authorised on behalf of the government to obtain, reproduce or retain, as the case may be.”
The law prescribes that whoever breaches these provisions “is guilty of an offence”.
It adds that “A public officer who fails to comply with any instructions given to him on behalf of the government as to the safeguarding of any classified matter which by virtue of his office is obtained by him or under his control is guilty of an offence.”
But it provides that it will be a tenable defence if it can be proved that “when the accused transmitted, obtained, reproduced or retained the matter, as the case may be, he did not know and could not reasonably have been expected to believe that it was classified matter.”
In addition, it will be a valid defence if the accused can prove that “when he knew or could reasonably have been expected to believe that the matter was classified matter, he forthwith placed his knowledge of the case at the disposal of the Nigerian Police Force.”
Section 7 of the Act provides for penalties that can be as high as 14 years imprisonment for a breach of certain provisions of the law.
Other penalties include two years’ imprisonment, a fine not exceeding N200 or both and three months jail term or a fine of an amount not exceeding N100 or both.