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CCB Snubs Request On Tinubu, Shettima’s Assets - Nigerians React.

Bola Tinubu and Kashim Shettima

The Code of Conduct Bureau has shunned a Freedom of Information request to disclose details of the assets declared by President Bola Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima, as required by the law.

Preciouseze reports that The PUNCH, in a correspondence dated June 22, 2023, requested the details of the assets declared by the President and the Vice President. The request was made under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2011.

The correspondence, titled “FOI request for details of President Bola Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima’s assets,” was addressed to the CCB Chairman, Isa Muhammed.

It read, “We write in line with the Freedom of Information Act, 2011. We hereby request the details of the assets of President Bola Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima as declared in their assets declaration forms submitted to the CCB.

“The details of the assets are required for publication as they are of public interest. The information could come in hard or soft copy. Based on the provision of the FoI Act, we hope that our request will be granted within seven days of your receipt of this letter. Thank you.”

Though the request was received and acknowledged with a stamp of the CCB Chairman’s Office on June 26, 2023, the bureau refused to comply with the provisions of the FoI Act that provides that such information must be made available within seven days.

Forty-eight days after the request, the CCB refused to provide the information. When contacted to track the request, a CCB communications officer, Veronica Kato, did not respond to enquiries by our correspondent via WhatsApp, text messages and phone calls.

A human rights lawyer, Deji Ajare said the refusal of the CCB to honour the FoI request was clear violation of the law.

Ajare said, “It is deeply concerning, the refusal or failure of the CCB to release the details of the assets declaration of the President and the Vice President, despite repeated requests made for those details pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act.

“The Freedom of Information Act, enacted in 2011, represents a crucial pillar of our democratic society, ensuring transparency, accountability, and access to information of public interest. It was designed to provide individuals with the right to access public records and information held by public officers, including the assets declaration of public officials. The declared assets of public officers, including those of the President and Vice President are public records, and by virtue of that, they fall under the purview of the FoI Act.

“The refusal or failure of the CCB to release the assets declaration details of the President and Vice President is a clear violation of the principles enshrined in the Freedom of Information Act. This action obstructs the transparency required to hold public officials accountable and challenges the fundamental tenets of good governance and democracy. It undermines citizens’ trust in the integrity of the presidency and could fuel suspicions of corruption or wrongdoing.”

He called on the CCB to do the needful.

“The release of the assets declaration details will not only fulfill its legal obligations but also demonstrate its commitment to combating corruption and fostering integrity within the highest echelons of government,”Ajare added.

However, another public-interest lawyer, Festus Ogun, said it was painful that the court had not done much to give bite to the FoI Act.

He said, “Painfully, the attitude of Nigerian courts in interpreting provision of law on asset declaration has been that no law is yet to be enacted explicitly by the National Assembly in respect of granting public access to the declared assets.

“The implication is that the elected officials, including the CCB, are not obligated by law to disclose the information contained in the forms, the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 notwithstanding. This is the painful position of the law.

“However, since laws are made for man and not the other way round, I hold the view that the President and his Vice should make their assets public in good faith and for transparency and accountability purposes. If wishes were horses.”

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