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CCB, SERAP disagree over Buhari’s, public officials’ assets declaration

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[FILES] President Muhammadu Buhari

The Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) yesterday refused to disclose details of President Muhammadu Buhari’s assets since it constitutes invasion of his privacy.

It responded to Freedom of Information (FoI) request by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), seeking disclosure of assets declaration submitted by successive presidents and governors from 1999 till date.

In its request, the group asked the CCB to provide details of declarations made immediately after taking office and at the end of their term of office for those who have left public offices.

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SERAP also asked the CCB to make public information on the number of asset declarations so far verified by the Bureau and the number of declarations found to be false and which breached the Code of Conduct for Public Officers.

But in a letter signed by Musa Usman, on behalf of CCB Chairman, Dr. Muhammed Isah, it maintained that the request fell short of requirements of the law.

The letter, with reference number CCB/HQ/LU/047/59, stated that only the National Assembly could prescribe conditions for the release of the forms, but such conditions are yet to be prescribed.

However, SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, said the civil society organisation would challenge CCB’s decision in court, saying, “assets declaration forms are documents for public information, and not private information.”

“Paragraph 3(c) of the third schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) empowers the bureau to retain custody of asset declaration and make them available for inspection by any citizen on such terms and conditions to be prescribed by the national assembly. These terms and conditions are yet to be prescribed,” the letter reads.

“Assuming the freedom of information Act is the term and condition, sections 12(1)(v) and 14(1)(b) of the Act makes information in the asset declaration form private and producing such information would be an invasion of privacy of presidents and governors.

“Section 14(2)(3) of the same Act stipulates conditions for granting requests for private information, but these have not been met by SERAP’s application.

However, Oluwadare said freedom of information was a fundamental right, adding that contents of asset declarations by presidents and governors do not amount to private information, as they are public officers under Part II, fifth schedule of the 1999 Constitution.


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