NAB chief promises no media trial of any bureaucrat

Asif Mahmood Butt & Sher Ali Khalti & Asim Yasin
Tuesday, Dec 05, 2023

LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: National Accountability Bureau Chairman Lt-Gen(Retd) Nazir Ahmad Butt has assured the bureaucracy of Punjab that there will be no media trial of any officer in the future and officers would not be questioned in cases of good faith and public interest. He told the officers, “I will not take any action on anonymous applications in future. Officers will realize that they are not criminals but defendants,” he added.

Highly reliable sources told “Jang” that during a two-and-a-half-hour long meeting with the Punjab Chief Secretary, Additional Chief Secretary and administrative secretaries of the province at the Punjab Civil Secretariat in Lahore, the NAB chairman faced many complaints by the officers. Prosecution Secretary Usman Anwar, Specialized and Primary Health Secretary Ali Jan and Sports Secretary Shahid Zaman openly talked about their NAB cases.

According to sources, Secretary Prosecution Usman Anwar said that there were 6 inquiries against him and he got relief in all of them, but the cases have not ended yet. Secretary Health Ali Jan said that if funds were released after the approval of the cabinet and spent on projects, then inquiries started against officers. “If we do not spend the funds given by the government and they lapse, then the government criticizes us and NAB will investigate the expenditure,” he added.

Secretary Health Ali Jan said, “We are all families of civil servants. Who is responsible when officers like Ahad Cheema are handcuffed and put on media trial without proof.” He asked the NAB chairman to him in front of all officers whether Ahad Cheema was guilty or not.NAB Chairman Nazir Butt while replying to Ali Jan said that a reference decision against Ahad Cheema was yet to come. “If he is not found guilty, I will go to his house to ask for forgiveness on behalf of the organization,” he added.

Secretary Sports and former CEO Knowledge Park Shahid Zaman referring to the case of 56 companies, said that despite the approval of the projects by the cabinet, the Supreme Court took notice and a case was made by the NAB. “Salaries were withdrawn from the officers. Some officers had spent money and did not have money to pay back their salaries. This case needs a review.”

Secretary Communication and Works Sohail Ashraf said that there is an internal accountability mechanism within every organization. “If NAB investigates a case, it should also have a representative of the department concerned.”

The Chief Secretary said the NAB chairman had agreed to meet the joint team every two months to discuss the cases before starting a formal inquiry. P&D Chairman Iftikhar Sahu constituted a joint committee.

Addressing an International Anti-Corruption Day function at NAB Lahore, Lt. Gen (retd) Nazir Ahmed said that seven out of every ten people are victims of housing scheme fraud for which NAB is proposing a new policy to protect the citizens.

Director General NAB Lahore, Amjad Majeed Aulakh, Chief Secretary Punjab, Zahid Akhter Zaman, judges of accountability courts, ex-DGs NAB Major (retd) Muhammad Shah Nawaz Badar, Major (retd) Syed Burhan Ali, Chairman Akhuwat Foundation, Dr Amjad Saqib, Vice Chancellors of various universities, schools and college students along with victims of Eden Housing and Model Housing Projects attended the function.

Highlighting the need for a soft image for the anti-graft organisation, the chairman pledged that the privacy of every accused person would be maintained at every level whether it was a complaint verification or an investigation in NAB cases and there would be no media trials. He also assured the business community that they will find NAB as their partner, in future.

During the ceremony, the NAB Chairman Lt Gen (retd) Nazir Ahmed distributed properties and cheques worth Rs3.5 billion, including 10 properties in Lahore worth Rs436 million to the Punjab Government, a property located in Islamabad worth Rs200 million to the Ministry of Housing, Islamabad. A cheque amounting to Rs 110 million to the representative of the Crescent Bank, cheques amounting to Rs 2.28 billion among victims of Eden and cheques of Rs 460 million among victims of Model Housing Projects.

While addressing the ceremony, Lt Gen (retd) Nazir Ahmed pledged that the privacy of every accused person would be maintained at every level whether it was a complaint verification or an investigation in NAB cases. The (accused) persons would be addressed as “respondents” in future. The purpose of NAB is to eradicate corruption and ensure the protection of the hard-earned money of the people. The philosophy of NAB is to catch thieves and not to hold media trials in any case. He further said against the backdrop of public interest and welfare, the NAB is organising monthly open courts in every regional bureau and would be personally supervised by respective DGs. Referring to NAB statistics for corruption perception, he said they were decreasing and also wished to continue forward till the formation of a corruption-free society.

Chairman NAB said that seven out of every ten people are victims of housing scheme fraud for which NAB is proposing a new policy to protect the citizens. He said that all stakeholders will be included in the new housing sector policy. Now the transaction between the builder and the buyer will be three-way instead of two-way, he said. The regulator will be a part of every transaction along with the builder and the buyer from the first day. The transactions will be through the banking channel, no cash payment will be allowed.

While addressing the ceremony, DG NAB Lahore Amjad Majeed Aulakh thanked God for granting the opportunity to disburse an amount of Rs3.5 billion recovered by NAB Lahore. He also reminded the distribution of Rs 4billion which was held in June this year. He said NAB Lahore has devised a comprehensive policy relating to the housing sector for which the Punjab government has also been engaged to secure the public’s future investments.

In Islamabad, Deputy Chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Sohail Nasir handed over cheques worth Rs 600 million to 450 affectees of the Arain City scandal. Commencing with the recovered sum obtained through a plea bargain with the management of Arain City, Fateh Jang, Rawalpindi, the funds were distributed among the victims in a simple ceremony held at NAB, Rawalpindi. This returned amount, a product of meticulous scrutiny was being distributed among the victims.

Director General NAB, Rawalpindi, Mirza Irfan Baig, said that the Rawalpindi Bureau has recovered more than Rs 600 billion from fraudulent societies to date. He mentioned that NAB has successfully recovered and returned money to 50,000 individual victims of fraud.