Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Assets Declaration: Code of Conduct Bureau chair refuses to disclose own assets

Bureau chair refuses to disclose own assets

The Code of Conduct Bureau has said that assets declared by public officers would not be available for public inspection.

In a response to the Advocate for Peoples Rights and Justice, the CCB said that assets declarations by public officers contain personal information ​that fall within the exemptions of the Freedom of Information Act.

The advocacy group had filed an FOI request demanding the assets declaration forms of the heads of both the CCB; the Code of Conduct Tribunal; and Nasir El-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna State (while he was the FCT minister).

“This is to ensure the citizens’ right to know, in line with your fight against corruption,” the group stated in a letter dated September 28 and signed by Victor Giwa, its National Coordinator.

The request came a week after the CCB slammed​ a 13-count charge of false asset declaration and corruption against​ Bukola Saraki, the Senate President.

The ​b​ureau accused Mr. Saraki‎ of offences ranging from anticipatory declaration of assets to failing to declare some assets – which were beyond his legitimate earning – he acquired while in office as governor.

Mr. Giwa told Caht212 FM on Wednesday that the purpose of demanding for the declared assets was to strengthen the country’s anti-corruption fight.

“We believe that the Code of Conduct Bureau’s fight against corruption must start from them.

However, in its response to the group, dated October 9, the CCB declined the request.

“It is conceded that sections 1(1), 3 and 4 of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2011 guarantees the right of a person to access or request information whether or not in written form, in the custody of any public agency,” the CCB said in a letter signed by Arinze Ijeanuli on behalf of the Chairman.

“Conversely, by virtue of sections 12(1)(a)(v), 14(1)(b) and 15(1)(a) of the same Act, the Bureau is not under any obligation to grant your request which constitutes invasion of personal privacy.

“Furthermore, paragraph 3(c) of the third schedule, Part 1 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, provides that the Code of Conduct Bureau shall make assets declarations of public officers available for inspection by any citizen of Nigeria only on such terms and conditions prescribed by the National Assembly.

“However, the terms and conditions under which that can be done are yet to be prescribed by the National Assembly.”