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Appeal Court Dismisses Suits Seeking Release Of Jonathan, Buhari, Others’ Asset Declaration Forms

The court also awarded the sum of two hundred thousand naira each as costs against the appellants.


Muhammadu-Buhari-Goodluck-Jonathan

 

The Court of Appeal in Abuja has dismissed separate appeals seeking an order, compelling the Code of Conduct Bureau to release the asset declaration forms of former presidents, their vice and National Assembly principal officers.

Delivering the Lead Judgement, Justice Okon Abang equally dismissed the appeals, adding that the suits were immature.

He said, as at the time the suit was filed at the trial court, the National Assembly did not make any written instrument prescribing the terms and conditions that will guide any members of the public to either apply for the inspection of the assets form or disclosure of information in those forms in the custody of the respondent.

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He noted that the appellants ought to have gone to court first, to compel the National Assembly to prescribe the terms and conditions for members of the public to comply with, before approaching the Code of Conduct Bureau, to disclose personal information relating to the declaration of assets by former officeholders.

Justice Abang also held that the provisions of the Freedom of Information relied on by the appellants were not in agreement with the provisions of the 1999 constitution as amended.

He further awarded the sum of two hundred thousand naira each as costs against the appellants.

The Public and Private Development Centre and the Incorporated Trustees of the African Centre for Media and Information Literacy, had in separate suits sued the Code of Conduct Bureau, and its chairman, before a Federal Capital Territory High Court for their refusal to honour a Freedom of Information demanding the asset declaration forms of former public office holders.

They sought the asset declaration forms of former president Goodluck Jonathan and his Vice, Namadi Sambo; ex-president Muhammadu Buhari and his vice, Yemi Osinbajo, while African Media Centre requested that of former National Assembly principal officers.

The trial judge, had dismissed the application stating that the National Assembly did not prescribe the terms and conditions to apply for.

Displeased with the court’s decision, the Applicants approached the Court of Appeal.