The Code of Conduct Bureau has revealed the reason why it can’t make public the details of asset declaration submitted by past presidents and state governors since 1999, they had said that making such information public would lead to an invasion of the privacy of the presidents.
The CCB had said this in response to the FOI request by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) which had been addressed to Dr. Muhammed Isah, chairman of the CCB, when he had been urged to provide information and details on asset declarations and state governors between 1999 and 2019.
SERAP had also demanded information on the number of asset declarations so far verified by the CCB which had been false and in breach of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers by the Bureau.
The CCB, however made reference to Paragraph 3(c) of the 3rd Schedule to the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended) in a letter, gives the right to the CCB 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 had not been has not been met.
The letter, with the reference number CCB/HQ/LU/047/59 which had been signed on behalf of the CCb Chairman by Musa Ibrahim Usman read in part:
“Referring breaches of the Code of Conduct for public officers to the Code of Conduct Tribunal for prosecution is a matter of discretion of the Bureau and not a matter of FOI.” “Consequently, I am further directed to convey to you that the request in SERAP’s application for information on details of asset declarations by presidents and state governors since the return of democracy in 1999 is hereby denied on the grounds that it falls short of the requirement of the law.
Please accept the assurances of the highest esteem of the Chairman CCB.”
However SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare had proposed that freedom of information is a fundamental right, and had countered the CCB by saying that the declaration of the assets of past presidents and governors do not amount to private information because presidents and governors are public officers under Part II, Fifth Schedule to the 1999 Constitution. Declarations of assets are constitutional commitments imposed only on public officers, and made by virtue of occupying entrusted public positions and offices. Therefore, details provided in any such asset declaration forms are public information, and not private information.
SERAP had also disclosed that because of this reason that they would go to court to challenge the decision of the CCB that had denied the FOI request which had refused to provide details of asset declaration by presidents and state governors since the return of democracy in 1999. They had claimed that the CCB refusal to disclose the demanded details was a breach of constitutional principles.
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