The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice-President Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the 36 state governors and their deputies to declare their assets.
In the Freedom of Information (FoI) requests sent to the public office holders, the rights group asked them to “provide information on summary of the assets, specifically property and income, contained in your asset declaration forms submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) since your assumption of office.”
Also, they are 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.
Failure to declare the said assets, SERAP said it “will take all appropriate legal action to compel you to comply with our request.”
“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 specific FoI request to 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 FoI requests 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.”
“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,” it noted.