Conduct Bureau Declines CSOs’ Application To Make Buhari’s Assets Public

Buhari

Buhari

THE Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) has declined a request from a coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) for information on the asset declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari, describing it as “personal privacy.”

The Bureau insisted that it would not make the information available because the National Assembly has not prescribed the terms and conditions under which information about the assets of public functionaries would be made available on request.

In a letter to the Stop Impunity Nigeria (SIN) and the Centre for Social Justice (CENSOJ), the Bureau also noted that such information was excluded from those covered under the Freedom of Information Act.

The letter was addressed to Mr. Eze Onyekpere and entitled, “Re: Application Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 for copies of the Assets Declaration Forms submitted by President Muhammad Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.”

Ijeanuli Arinze Ofor who signed the letter on behalf of the Chairman of CCB, said: “It is conceded that Sections 1 (1), 3 and 4 of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2011 guarantees the right of a person to access or request information whether or not in written form, in the custody of any public agency.

“Conversely, by virtue of Sections 12 (1) (a) (V), 14 (1) (b) and 15 (1)(a) of the same Act, the Code of Conduct Bureau has power to decline a request, which constitutes invasion of personal privacy.

“Assets declarations by public officers contain such personal information which falls within the exemptions to the disclosure of information in the FOIA.”

The letter, made available to journalists in Abuja, went on: “Furthermore, paragraph 3 (c) of the third schedule, Part 1 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, provides that the Code of Conduct Bureau shall make assets declarations of public officers available for inspection by any citizen of Nigeria only on terms and conditions prescribed by the National Assembly.

“However, the terms and conditions under which that can be done have not yet been prescribed by the National Assembly.  In view of the aforementioned, the Bureau hereby declines your request.”

The Presidency had announced recently that Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had declared their assets at the CCB, leading to a public outcry for the details to be made public.

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) said it was not enough for Buhari and Osinbajo to declare their assets to the CCB without making public the details as it was in 2007 when the then President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua made public details of his assets.

SERAP said doing so would give the needed bite to the anti-corruption stance of the new administration and truly give Nigerians hope of a “not-business-as-usual’ situation.

Its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, said: “We welcome the official declaration of assets by the President and Vice President. This clearly complies with the requirements of the Nigerian Constitution as contained in Chapter VI Section 140.

“However, the declaration before the Code of Conduct Bureau alone falls far short of the commitment to publicly declare their assets.”

SERAP asked Buhari and Osinbajo to “swiftly move to declare their assets publicly, consistent with their apparent anti-corruption credentials and their expressed commitments to do so and in the best interest of transparency and accountability.”

Mumuni added: “SERAP recalls that the President had said before the election that he would publicly declare his assets and liabilities and encourage all his appointees to publicly declare their assets and liabilities as a pre-condition for appointment. We now expect the President to fulfill this promise to the Nigerian people.”

He urged them to publish the information on a dedicated website, noting: “Public disclosure of assets will give the general public a true picture of the assets of the President and Vice President and will send a powerful message that it is not going to be business as usual with this government.

“This will also follow the best practice by Yar’Adua, boost this government’s fight against corruption and impunity of perpetrators and fully comply with the provisions of chapter two dealing with Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy, which among others require the government to take steps to eradicate corrupt practices and the abuse of power.

“We believe that public disclosure of assets is crucial for ensuring that public officials’ personal interests including that of the President and Vice President as the leaders of the nation, do not conflict with their duties and responsibilities.

“Public disclosure also helps to provide a baseline and thus means for comparison to identify assets that may have been corruptly acquired and that a public official may legitimately be asked to account for.

“We also urge the President to urgently take measures to seek amendment of the law relating to declaration of assets to include the requirement of public disclosure so as to bring it in line with international standards and best practices such as the United Nations (UN) Convention against Corruption.”
 

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12 Comments
  • Eyesofman

    Why the haste? We have been told that the declared assets will be made public after due diligence and verification as being carried out by ccb in the first100 days of this administration. Is there something seen in buhari asset declaration by these civil society groups that other people are not seeing or is it a mind set by some particular groups of people who are out to destroy the hard earn reputations of the people’s General as mr. Integrity on the alters of political shenanigans? Well we are watching the dramas being played out, but they must know that Buhari’s integrity and character is not negotiable.

    • macfriet

      CCB did not claim they have not carried out due diligence hence, there is nothing wrong in asking for mr. Integrity’s declared assets. In fact, it ought to have been made public before due deligence. I smell a dead rat somewhere

      • Kehinde

        Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm! !!

    • Kehinde

      Then our PMB should be more pointed in action and stop giving room to skepticism.

  • Mr Clean

    President Yar Adua was sincere enough to make his asset declaration open. He fully committed himself to democratic governance and gave a freehand to other institutions of government to perform their tasks. Jonathan’s asset declaration was secret like that of Obasanjo. These two regimes were corruption ridden. PMB has a choice to opt for transparency and let Nigerians know what he has or remain secret and a sign that he intends to do more things that are unworthy of public knowledge.

    • Kehinde

      Mr Clean na wa for you oh. If OGA MADAM wrist watch cost millions of naira, how do you expect assumed CLEAN OGA to declare assets publicly. Abeg oh!!! The more you look the less you see oh. 9ja we hail thee!!!

  • Sunshine

    CCB does not owe Nigerians any explanation in this regards. It is a matter for Buhari to keep to his word as to maintain his integrity. He promised Nigerian people that he was going to publicly declare his assets if voted in as a president. Why bringing in CCB into this matter now? Did he not know the CCB were there when he promised? I do not personally know what to make out of him. This was Buhari who said he was in a very good health to manage the country. No sooner had he been sworn in he realised his age could be an impediment for him. You can not deceive the Nigerian people if Ou want to maintain your integrity and respect. You have become deadly slow in doing things. Yes, you can say to us that you are been careful. For how long? Take the bull by the horn and accomplish all that you promised Nigeian people. Enough of the excuses.

    • Kehinde

      Gbam!!! You have said it all. The expected change mantra is a mirage. PMB has chosen to it the ground strolling and not hitting the ground running as promised.

      • Sunshine

        ????

    • BALIST

      YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT,AM WAITING FOR MR PRESIDENT TO DO WHAT HE PROMISED THE ELECTORATE.AND I THINK IT IS TAKING TOO LONG

      • Sunshine

        ????

  • ukoette ibekwe

    Correct me if you may. I understand the crude meaning of change to be doing something that is different. And in this regards I want to believe that when Buhari was ushered in as the President on the mantra of change, he meant doing something differently, which is not prohibited by law. I don’t think the law concerning declaring of assets precludes Mr. Buhari from declaring his assets on a whim. If Buhari was so conscious of the law as to wait for CCB to vet his property before making it public, then he should have not contested the election because he was not qualified in the first place due to his inability to produce his GCE certificate as dictated by law. However, Nigerians did not consider it necessary to disqualify him from contesting the election and declaration as the winner. However, all that is behind us now and everyone seems eager for Buhari to do things differently, but he seems to have stumbled right out of the gate especially concerning the simple position that only Buhari knows what his assets are. Efforts by the CCB to delineate Buhari’s assets are futile because how about the many assets that have no legal documents, how will the agency authenticate the ownership or otherwise of such property. Mr. Buhari should save us the displeasure and cunningness of preferring the CCB to complete due diligence according to law, because waiting on the law is not change, but same old same old. The Nigerian legal system is a fallacy because corruption has not been checked in Nigeria by virtue of the law. The Nigerian constitution is not an expression of the wishes of the Nigerian people but the figment of work sponsored by an evil general intended to perpetuate him in government. Fortunately, for the contraption we live in, he passed. So spare us Mr. President and set a good example for a change. Tell us your assets.

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