The Code of Conduct Bureau has said it cannot disclose the information in the asset declaration forms submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and other current and ex-public officials because the information is private and not for public consumption.
The bureau said the existing law guiding its operations did not allow for such disclosure and except the National Assembly amends the law, it had no power to make such information public.
The CCB stressed that though it had custody of the asset declaration forms of Presidents, Vice Presidents, Senate Presidents, Speakers of the House of Representatives, governors and deputy governors since return to democracy in 1999, such public officials had over the years refused to give consent to make the information in their asset declaration forms public.
The CCB said these in a counter-affidavit it filed in opposition to a suit seeking the disclosure of the content of the asset declaration forms submitted by Buhari and Osinbajo.
The suit marked FHC/L/CS/2019 and pending before the Federal High Court in Lagos was filed by an anti-corruption advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project.
A Senior Admin Officer with the CCB, Ellis Adebayo, who deposed to the counter-affidavit to SERAP’s suit, said she was informed by the bureau’s lawyer, Musa Ibrahim, that the law did not permit the CCB supply SERAP with the information in the Buhari and Osinbajo’s asset declaration forms.
Adebayo said, “The asset declaration forms of the President and ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria requested by the application contain personal information about them and their properties, assets and liabilities and those of their wives/husbands and children under the age of 18 years.
“The applicant has neither shown that it is in the public interest to disclose the information nor that such public interest outweighs the protection of the privacy of the Presidents, Vice Presidents, Senate Presidents, Speakers of the House of Representatives, state governors and deputy governors since the return to democracy in 1999.”
The CCB said it was not obligated to submit asset declaration forms to anybody; and that the Freedom of Information Act under which SERAP made its request was “in open confrontation with the 1999 constitution and it is therefore void.”