The Code of Conduct Bureau will not make public the details of assets declared by President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo due to limitations in federal laws covering such release, the office has said.
There has been controversy over the release of the details of the president and vice president’s assets since their inauguration May 29.
Mr. Buhari pledged to publicly declare his assets despite the lack of a law requiring him to do so. The Nigerian Constitution stipulates that senior office holders declare their assets, without requiring them to do so publicly.
Despite his promise, the president has yet to publicly declare his assets three weeks after taking office. His office said those details will be made available after the Code of Conduct Bureau authenticates claims in the declaration forms.
A civil society group, Stop Impunity Nigeria, an affiliate of the Centre for Social Justice, had on June 1, 2015 applied to the CCB to request copies of the completed assets declaration forms by the President and his deputy.
The application, signed by the Lead Director of the Centre, Eze Onyekpere, was pursuant to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2011.
But, in its response CCB/HQ/670/G/1/104 dated June 10, 2015 and signed by Ijeanuli Ofor on behalf of the Chairman, the CCB declined the request, citing the absence of prescribed law by the National Assembly authorizing the release of such information to the public.
The Bureau, in its response, made available to PREMIUM TIMES, conceded the right by Nigerians under section 1(1) 3 and 4 of the FOIA 2011, to “access or request information, whether written or not in written form, in the custody of any public agency”.
Regardless, the Bureau said sections 12(1) (a) (v), 14(1) (b) and 15(1)9a) of the same Act empowered it to decline any request, which it considered an “invasion of personal privacy”.
“Assets declarations by public officers contain such personal information, which falls within the exemptions to the disclosure of information in the FOIA,” the Bureau said.
The office explained that paragraph 3(c of the Third Schedule, Part 1 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) empowered it to “make assets declarations of public officers available for inspection by any citizen of Nigeria only on terms and conditions prescribed by the National Assembly”.
“However, the terms and conditions under which that can be done have not yet been prescribed by the National Assembly,” the Bureau said, adding that the group’s request was rejected in view of the absence of the prescribed “terms and conditions”.