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Falana asks Buhari, Osinbajo to declare current assets

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Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has asked President Muhammadu Buhari and his deputy, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, to publicly declare their current assets. Falana, in a statement yesterday, faulted the President’s claim for not declaring his assets, saying that it contradicted the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended), the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

He, therefore, urged the duo to show strong leadership trait by immediately acceding to the FoI requests by SERAP and publicly announce any update on their asset declarations already made public in 2015.He said: “The Presidency has claimed that there is no law in Nigeria mandating President Buhari to declare his assets publicly. With due respect, this cannot be the correct position of our law.

“As far as the law is concerned, the word ‘declaration’ means ‘a formal statement, proclamation, or announcement, especially embodied in an instrument.’“The combined effect of the Constitution, FoI Act and the African Charter is that all public officials ought to voluntarily announce publicly their asset declarations even without prompting from civil society groups like SERAP.

“In the alternative, the Code of Conduct Bureau is bound by law to make them available to members of the public, pursuant to Section 1 of the FoI Act.“In fact, the law contemplated by the Constitution to make asset declarations of public officials public is the FoI Act. With the FoI Act, there is no longer secrecy in government, including in the asset declarations made by all public officials.”

“Even private citizens can no longer insist on secrecy as they are now required by official policies to register their biometric data for the purpose of acquiring international passports, telephone lines and opening of bank accounts.“The Bank Verification Number commonly called BVN – a biometric identification system implemented by the Buhari administration – has ended secrecy of bank accounts, thereby curbing illegal banking transactions in Nigeria.

“This will end the secrecy that continues to surround asset declarations in Nigeria. The secrecy has over the years been used to hide corruptly stolen assets, which has continued to cause untold misery for millions of Nigerians.”

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