The Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) announced they will not publicize details concerning the declaration of assets by President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. The Bureau claims that there are various limitations in federal laws which halt the release of this information.
President Buhari repeatedly promised during his presidential campaign that not only would he declare his assets to the public, to instill greater trust, but he would demand that all of his appointees would need to do the same on the condition of their appointment.
Since the May 29th inauguration, controversy has surrounded the the asset declaration for the President and Vice President. Initially, there was public outcry that President Buhari and VP Osinbajo did not declare their financial and property assets after successfully winning the presidential elections in March of this year.
Public concerns over the declaration of their assets were rekindled after Buhari’s inauguration when no action had been taken to make public those assets.
Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Buhari, issued a statement after the inauguration that President Buhari and VP Osinbajo provided details of their assets to the CCB–which would verify their assets in order to confirm the authenticity of those disclosures.
However a civil society group, Stop Impunity Nigeria, applied to the CCB requesting copies of the completed assets declaration forms of the President and VP. This request was made on June 1, 2015.
According to reporting by The Premium TImes, the CCB responded to that request on June 10, 2015 in a statement signed by Ijeanuli Ofor on behalf of the Chairman. The response declined the request by Stop Impunity Nigeria, citing the absence of a law by the National Assembly authorizing the release of such information to the public.
The CCB told Stop Impunity Nigeria that the asset declaration in their custody did not qualify under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The CCB said that the FOIA gives it the right to deny any request that it stipulates an “invasion of personal privacy.”
The CCB also said sections 12(1) (a) (v), 14(1) (b) and 15(1)9a) of that same Act say “assets declarations by public officers contain such personal information, which falls within the exemptions to the disclosure of information in the FOIA.”
Even if the CCB do not comply with Stop Impunity Niger’s request for asset disclosure, questions still remain regarding when Buhari and Osinbajo intend to make due on their promises to demonstrate to the Nigerian public their total wealth and property.
When SaharaReporters talked to Femi Adesina, he told our correspondent that “there has been no change in the President’s position regarding when he will disclose his personal assets.”