Court grants SERAP leave to order CCB to publish asset declaration of GEJ, Buhari, others

Court grants SERAP leave to order CCB to publish asset declaration of GEJ, Buhari, others

- SERAP was granted leave compelling the CCB to publish the asset declaration of President Buhari

- The order also said CCB should publish asset declaration of all president and governors since 1999

- SERAP had gone to court following CCB's claim that it could not disclose details of asset declarations submitted to it by successive presidents and state governors since 1999

A Federal High Court in Lagos has granted leave to the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) to compel the Code of Conduct Bureau to publish the asset declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The order also compels the CCB to publish the asset declaration of all presidents and governors who came into office since the return to democracy in 1999.

Adelanke Aremo who is the counsel to SERAP filed an ex-parte motion in court.

Justice Muslim Hassan in his ruling said: “Going through the application filed by SERAP, supported by a 14-paragraph affidavit with supporting exhibits, statements setting out the facts, verifying affidavits and written address in support, I am satisfied that leave ought to be granted in this case, and I hereby grant the motion for leave.”

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SERAP's action, designated FHC/L/CS/1019/2019, came consequent upon the claim by CCB that it could not disclose details of asset declarations submitted to it by successive presidents and state governors since 1999 because doing so “would offend the right to privacy of presidents and state governors”.

SERAP in its suit applied for a judicial review and an order compelling the CCB to publish the assets of all president and governors in office since 1999.

The suit reads: “Asset declarations of presidents and state governors submitted to the CCB are public documents.

“Public interest in disclosure of the details of asset declarations sought by SERAP clearly outweighs any claim of protection of the privacy of presidents and state governors, as they are public officers entrusted with the duty to manage public funds, among other public functions.

“A necessary implication of the rule of law is that a public institution like the CCB can only act in accordance with the law, as to do otherwise may enthrone arbitrariness.

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“The CCB does not have reasonable grounds on which to deny SERAP’s FOI request, as it is in the interest of justice, the Nigerian public, transparency and accountability to publish details of asset declarations by presidents and state governors since the return of democracy in 1999.

“Disclosing details of asset declarations of public officers such as presidents and state governors would improve public trust in the ability of the CCB to effectively discharge its mandate.

“This would in turn put pressure on public officers like presidents and state governors to make voluntary public declaration of their assets.”

Meanwhile, the CCB has started verification of the asset declaration submitted by Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo state.

The Oyo governor had publicly declared N48 billion assets and submitted to the bureau.

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The Nation reports that Bisi Atolagbe who is the CCB director in Oyo state revealed this during a meeting with southwest state directors.

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