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Make Your Assets Public — SERAP Tells Buhari

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Professor Yemi Osinbajo to provide information on summary of the assets, specifically property and income.

The group also asked the 36 state governors and their deputies, asking them to “clarify within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter, if you have had any reason to review and update the asset declarations submitted to the CCB, and to provide the summary of any such review.

In a statement released by the group’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP said “the summary of assets to be disclosed include, where applicable, the following: savings and other liquid assets, all immovable property and shares and actions in any private and public companies; property purchased by way of tender from any public-law entities and information about businesses owned.

“In the FoI requests dated 3 January 2020 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “The Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the FoI Act, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which is part of our laws, read together, impose transparency obligations on all public officials to publicly disclose information concerning their asset declarations submitted to the CCB, and to clarify any updated review of such assets.

“The non-public disclosure by public officials of their summary of assets seriously undermines the effectiveness and integrity of the constitutional and statutory obligations to submit asset declarations, especially given that declarations are designed to curb grand corruption. The non-disclosure of assets also undermines the authority of the CCB and weakens the public trust in the asset declaration regimes.

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“In the specific FoI request to President Buhari, SERAP noted his “public promise to make specific details of your assets public, and urge you to consider this FoI request as a unique opportunity to fulfil the promise made to the Nigerian people.

“We would also like you to clarify if you have encouraged members of your cabinet to also submit their asset declarations to the CCB and to make such declarations public. If so, we would like you to provide information on the details of those that have made submissions.

“We would also like you to clarify whether a declaration has been submitted as constitutionally and statutorily required, the date of any such submission, and if you have received any confirmation of the verification of your asset declaration by the CCB.

“The general public has a legitimate interest in ascertaining and scrutinising the veracity, exactitude and honesty of information contained in asset declarations submitted by public officials to the CCB. Without public disclosure of summary of assets, this would have no practical importance.

“Public disclosure of summary of assets submitted to the CCB would help uncover any irregularities and trigger formal verification of declarations by the CCB and other anti-corruption agencies.

“By Section 4 (a) of the FoI Act when a person makes a request for information from a public official, institution or agency, the public official, institution or urgency to whom the application is directed is under a binding legal obligation to provide the applicant with the information requested for, except as otherwise provided by the Act, within 7 days after the application is received.”

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