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SERAP gives President, Osinbajo, governors, deputies deadline to publish assets

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Lagos-based rights group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has given President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the 36 state governors and their deputies seven days to: “provide information on their assets and property submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) since their assumption of office.”

It also demanded of them to, “clarify within seven 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; failing which we will take all appropriate legal action to compel you to comply with our request.”

In the Freedom of Information (FoI) requests dated January 3, 2020 and signed by its deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP 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.”

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The group added: “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.”

According to the organisation, 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.”

In the specific proposal 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.”

The various inquiries read in part: “Our FoI request does not clash with the rights to privacy and data protection. Both rights are not absolute and can be restricted provided there is a basis in law and a legitimate public interest justifies the restriction. Prevention of grand corruption and exposing unexplained wealth of officials are serious and legitimate public interests.

“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.”


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