Buhari, Osinbajo, others should declare assets before May 29: SERAP

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari and his Vice, Yemi Osinbajo, to declare their assets.

The call is coming as Mr Buhari prepares to hand over power on May 29 to a new administration.

“Publishing your asset declaration form and encouraging other public officials and officials of the next administration to do so would enable Nigerians to scrutinize the assets and worth of public officials before taking office and at the end of their term of office,” Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP’s Deputy Director, said in a statement on Sunday.

The Nigerian 1999 constitution seeks to prevent corruption, and abuse of office through its provisions on the declaration of assets by public officers.

According to the Code of Conduct Bureau, it’s mandatory for all public officers whether elected, appointed, recruited, or contracted by whatever name called to collect and sign “a form” from the Code of Conduct Bureau Office.

The form would include only the Assets/Liabilities they own at the material time of filling it as all properties they acquired outside Nigeria must be stated clearly with the value of the said Assets in the currency of the country where the property is situated.

Although, the public declaration law doesn’t compel a public officer to declare his or her assets publicly.

SERAP said Mr Buhari needed to use his leadership position as the “African Union Anti-Corruption Champion” to widely publish his asset declaration form as he’s vacating office to leave a legacy of transparency.

The group said that aside from Messrs Buhari and Osinbajo, other top government officials who also worked with the government needed to declare their assets.

It specifically advised Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila to promptly follow suit, adding that it would be a good template for the incoming administration to encourage the same step.

“Those who voluntarily seek or occupy public offices and are catered for by the public have certain fiduciary duties to be open, transparent, and accountable to Nigerians regarding the details of their asset declaration forms.

“Because asset declaration forms are public documents, public officials cannot claim that publishing their assets would violate their privacy rights. There is an overriding public interest in the disclosure of information on the assets of public officers who clearly are trustees of Nigeria’s wealth and resources,” it added.

In the statement, SERAP further urged Mr Buhari to emulate a good example of former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who consistently published his asset declaration forms as president and governor of Katsina State.

“He also planned legislative reform to make it mandatory for all public officers to declare their assets publicly. He believed that publishing his assets would put pressure on other public officers to do so,” the group added.

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