SERAP Asks Governors To Emulate Makinde, Publish Details Of Asset Declaration

SERAP Threatens To Sue UI, AAUA Over Increased Fees

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked 35 state governors in Nigeria to emulate the example of the Governor of Oyo State, Mr Seyi Makinde, by publishing without further delay the full details of their asset declarations as submitted to the Code Of Conduct Bureau (CCB).

According to a statement by the organisation’s Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare, the publication of asset declarations by the governors will improve transparency, accountability and good governance.

It says it will also assure the public that neither fraud nor illicit enrichment is concealed since the worth of the governors before and after taking offices are open to the public.

Furthermore, SERAP wants the chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum NGF and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, to leverage his position to encourage all the members of NGF who have not yet done so to declare their assets and to publish their declarations submitted to the CCB without delay.

Read the full statement below…

SERAP asks governors to emulate ‘Makinde’s open asset declaration example’

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged 35 state governors in Nigeria to “emulate the shining example of Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, who recently openly declared his assets, by publishing without further delay the full details of their asset declarations submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).

SERAP said: “Nigerians ought to know the worth of their state governors. The publication of asset declarations by state governors will improve transparency, accountability and good governance and assure the public that neither fraud nor illicit enrichment is concealed. Knowing the worth of state governors before and after taking offices would also prevent rumours, half-truths or innuendo regarding asset declarations.”

According to the assets declaration form marked OYSE/2019/001, and submitted to the CCB and made public this month, Mr Makinde’s worth is put at about N50 billion – his firms are worth up to N48.1 billion; shares, cash and portfolios make up the rest.

In a statement today by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “Public officials cannot lay claim to absolute privacy in matters of asset declarations. There is an overriding public interest in the disclosure of information on the assets of public officials, including state governors, who are trustees of Nigeria’s wealth and resources. There is nothing inherently private in the affairs of governors, and we will consider appropriate legal action if state governors continue to fail or refuse to publish their asset declarations.”

SERAP said: “Continuing failure or reluctance by many state governors to publish their asset declarations submitted to the CCB may lead to public perception that the governors are attempting to hide something from the citizens regarding those declarations, especially given the fact that many of the public officials being tried for or convicted of corruption are found to have made a false declaration of their assets.”

The organization also urged the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) and Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, to “use his leadership position and good offices to encourage all the members of NGF who have not yet done so to declare their assets and to publish their declarations submitted to the CCB without delay. The NGF can play a positive role in encouraging greater transparency in asset declarations by governors.”

The statement read in part: “As fiduciaries and trustees of the public weal, state governors are under an inescapable obligation to serve the public with highest fidelity and openness. In discharging the duties of their office, they are required to display good faith, honesty and integrity. They must be impervious to corrupting influences and they must transact their business frankly and openly in the light of public scrutiny so that the public may know and be able to judge them and their work fairly.”

“Transparency in asset declarations is needed to check against corruption and to hold the governors accountable to the governed. Publishing the asset declarations by governors would help address the high level of public distrust and dissatisfaction with spending of security votes by state governors, enable closer relations between state governors and the public, and secure the confidence of the citizens in their governments.”

“The prevailing distrust of bureaucracy and government officials has given Nigerians the desire to keep a tight rein on public officials. Openness is a necessary condition of popular democratic power, a predicate for effective representative government, and an indispensable part of the everyday life of the free individual.”

“Under Article 10 of the UN Convention Against Corruption, to which Nigeria is a state party, governments should take necessary measures to increase transparency in public administrations and to publish information periodically.”

“SERAP notes that a fundamental objective of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended) is to prevent corruption and abuse of office particularly through its provisions on the declaration of assets by public officials. Provisions on the declaration of assets by all public officials including state governors are entrenched in the Code of Conduct for Public Officers, contained in Part I of the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution.”

“Every public official is required to declare his/her assets immediately after taking office and thereafter, at the end of his/her term of office, by submitting to the CCB a written declaration of his/her properties, assets and liabilities and those of his/her unmarried children under the age of 18 years.”

“The asset declaration form also requires a public official to declare the assets and liabilities of his/her spouse. Any statement in such declaration that is found to be false by any authority or person authorised in that behalf to verify it is deemed to be a breach of the Code of Conduct.”

“Similarly, any property or asset acquired by a public official after the declaration which is not fairly attributable to income, gift or loan approved by the Code of Conduct is deemed to have been acquired in breach of the Code unless the contrary is proved.”

“The late President Umaru Yar’Adua publicly declared his assets in 2007. Kayode Fayemi also publicly declared his assets in his first tenure as Ekiti governor. Both President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo tersely made public their asset declarations.”

Kolawole Oluwadare
SERAP Deputy Director
28/07/2019
Lagos, Nigeria

Celebration In Ilorin As Supreme Court Frees Saraki Of False Asset Declaration Charges

Hundreds of supporters of the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, are jubilating over the Supreme Court judgment freeing him of the false asset declaration charges against him.

The Supreme Court on Friday upheld the appeal of the Senate President and discharged him of the remaining three false assets declaration charges he was facing.

Following the Supreme Court’s judgement, the people of his senatorial district came out to celebrate.

At the palace of the Emir of Ilorin, Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, the supporters rode to the palace in motorcycles and tricycles as they were received by the traditional ruler in his palace.

The Senate President had filed an appeal at the Supreme Court to challenge the ruling of the Court of Appeal which asked the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) to try him on three of the 18 counts brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Ruling in favour of Dr Saraki’s appeal, the Supreme court dismissed the entire 18 charges brought against him by the Federal Government and consequently discharged and acquitted him accordingly.

 

The judgement according to an aide of the Senate President is a triumph for rule of law.

Asset Declaration: Saraki Insists CCT Trial Was Politically Motivated

Asset Declaration: Saraki Insists CCT Trial Was Politically Motivated
File photo: Bukola Saraki

 

The Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, has insisted that trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) over the allegation of false asset declaration was political.

Dr Saraki said this in a statement issued on Wednesday by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Yusuph Olaniyonu.

He was reacting to a report that the trial, which is now before both the Supreme Court and the CCT, formed part of the discussions between the new People’s Democratic Party (nPDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government.

The Senate President faulted the report, maintaining that the issues being discussed between the nPDP and the APC leaderships were beyond personal matters and those who attended the meeting would attest to it.

He explained that he could have ignored the report, but he had decided to disclaim it as it might be perceived to have some level of authenticity due to the circumstances around it.

Senator Saraki further noted his stance on the trial that he would not accept any settlement of the asset declaration case outside the judicial process.

“He (Saraki) is confident that the court will give him justice and he will be exonerated of all charges as can be seen by the verdicts of the CCT and the Court of Appeal.

“In fact, he maintains his earlier position that the trial was politically and maliciously motivated,” the statement said.

The Senate President, however, warned all interested parties to allow the judiciary to freely and fairly decide on the issues before it.

He emphasised the need for the independence of the judiciary and ability of the court to adjudicate on all matters in the rule of law.

Saraki reiterated his belief that nobody should compromise national interest with personal issues, adding that this has guided his actions, conduct and utterances in the performance of his official duties in the last three years

He alleged that persistent persecution and intimidation have been directed at him and urged Nigerians to ignore the report about the meeting of the nPDP and APC leaders.

The senator maintained that he has no reason to depart from his avowed principle that Nigeria is greater than any individual, including himself.

Absence of Prosecution Witness Stalls Saraki’s CCT Trial

Senate President, CCT, SarakiThe trial of the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, at the code of conduct tribunal for alleged false declaration of assets has been stalled for the third time.

 

The trial was on Thursday adjourned to May 3, 2017 after the prosecutor, Rotimi Jacobs, said his remaining witness, a banker to the Senate president, failed to show up.

Consequently, he asked the tribunal for a short adjournment to enable him compel the witness to appear before it.

Jacobs explained to the tribunal that while the bank where the witness works, sent in the documents he requested, the witness did not show up.

He said he was told that the witness was absent because he had gone to the hospital to undergo a surgery after a previous unsuccessful surgery.

The prosecutor promised that he would do everything possible to bring the witness to the tribunal.

Saraki’s counsel, Paul Erukoro, however, said the absence of the witness was an indication that the prosecution had run out of options and could not close its case.

As a result of the setback, the Senate President, who had arrived at the tribunal in company with lawmakers and supporters, did not enter the dock.

READ MORE:

Saraki’s CCT Trial Postponed Again

Saraki, Others Mourn Senator Isiaka Adeleke

 

Saraki’s CCT Trial Postponed Again

Saraki, forgery,The trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal has been postponed for the second time in one month.

The Senate President’s trial on charges of false declaration of assets had been earlier postponed from Tuesday last week, April 18, to April 25, today.

It was however postponed on Tuesday for the second time this month till Thursday, April 27.

The Senate President was arraigned before the CCT in September 2015 and is facing 18 charges bordering on false declaration of assets.

SERAP Condemns Senate’s Amendment Of CCB Act

SERAP, Buhari, Judges releaseHuman rights group, the Social Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has questioned the rationale behind the amendment of the act establishing the Code of Conduct Bureau and Code of Conduct Tribunal by the Senate.

The upper legislative chamber on Thursday altered the law, transferring the controlling power over the CCB and CCT to the legislature, away from the President.

But in a statement, SERAP condemned the action, which it insists does not serve the interest of Nigerians but that of the lawmakers.

The statement adds: “This is in fact a blatant case of conflict of interest and betrayal of trust. The clear victims of this betrayal of trust are the economically and socially vulnerable sectors of the population who have been terribly let down by their own lawmakers.”

The group called on Nigerians to reject the move and pledged to work with other members of the civil society to vigorously fight what it describes as a perversion of the rule of law.

The Nigerian Senate took a bold step on Thursday by passing the Code of Conduct amendment bill, 2016.

The amendment included altering the tenure of office of the chairman and members of the Code of Conduct Bureau.

Also amended was the tenure of the chairman and members from serving until they are 70, to a term of five years.

The exercise follows months of discussions in the Senate, regarding the need to amend the bill.

It also comes months after the trial of Senate President Bukola for false asset declaration, commenced at the Code Of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

The Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, on the same day failed in his attempt to stop his trial by the Code Of Conduct Tribunal as the Court of Appeal affirmed that the CCT has jurisdiction to try the case.

Senate Finally Amends Code Of Conduct Bill

senate, CCTThe Nigerian Senate took a bold step on Thursday by finally passing the Code of Conduct amendment bill, 2016.

The amendment included altering the tenure of office of the chairman and members of the Code of Conduct Bureau.

Also amended was the tenure of the chairman and members from serving until they are 70, to a term of five years.

The exercise follows months of discussions in the Senate, regarding the need to amend the bill.

It also comes months after the trial of Senate President Bukola for false asset declaration, commenced at the Code Of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

Saraki had criticised the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), which filed the charges against him, for not inviting him for questioning, on the charges before it filed them.

Although, the actual amendments to the act were done by the House Of Representatives and passed on May 31, the Senate concurred with the House and passed the bill on October 27.

Early in the year, the upper legislative chamber had sought to amend the act, but a public outcry forced it to shelve it; although a similar bill has been reintroduced.

The Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, on Thursday failed in his attempt to stop his trial by the Code Of Conduct Tribunal as the Court of Appeal affirmed that the CCT has jurisdiction to try the case.

I Disagree With President Buhari’s Assets Declaration – Prof. Odinkalu

Assets Declaration, Chidi Odinkalu, BuhariFormer Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Professor Chidi Odinkalu, says he is not satisfied with the way the President and his deputy managed the issue of their assets declaration.

Speaking on Sunday Politics on Channels Television, Professor Odinkalu said that contrary to the President’s promise during the election, Nigerians are unable to determine the exact asset status of the two top officials.

“I have to say I did disagree and continue to disagree with the way in which their assets declaration was managed.

“I don’t think they have kept faith with their campaign promise to publish their assets and I do think that it is necessary in order to fight corruption effectively.”

Prof Odinkalu stressed that this would make sure that the assets of all senior public officers were “visited with the oxygen of transparency”.

Personal Integrity

The human rights activist, however, noted that President Muhammadu Buhari has brought personal credibility to the fight against corruption which he described as ‘positive’.

He stressed the importance of fighting corruption with personal integrity and credibility, saying that the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, also “brings exceptional personal integrity to the table on the issue of corruption”.

“He has shown that he is willing to continue along the lines that he worked prior to becoming Vice President,” he said.

He asked Nigerians to support the President’s efforts to fight corruption.

“The President is only one person and he is not going to fight corruption by himself. My view has always been that the most a President can do is to provide leadership.”

Colonial Arrogance

The Professor of Law also commented on British Prime Minister, David Cameron’s comment describing Nigeria as ‘fantastically corrupt’.

He admitted that the statement was indeed an insult to Nigeria but the country would only be able to change that impression when it begins to get looters convicted and jailed.

“I don’t get overly bothered about colonial arrogance, its always existed, its going to exist.

“The important thing is we focus on rebuilding our country into something we all can be proud of and a country that works for its citizens and does not excuse the misbehaviour of people because we think those are big people.

“Once we do that, we will be fine. David Cameron can go to hell.”

He had said earlier, “The problem we have with corruption in Nigeria is actually impunity. It’s about institutions and application of rules to people.

“That’s where we fail because Nigeria is a very stratified and very hierarchical society,” he said, emphasising the need to severely punish corrupt public officials.

He described President Buhari’s request for the return of Nigeria’s looted funds kept in the UK instead of an apology from the UK Prime Minister as a “class act”.

SERAP invokes FOI act to seek Jonathan’s assets declaration

A civil society group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) on Tuesday sent a Freedom of Information request to President Goodluck Jonathan asking him to “provide information on your assets declaration details between May 2007 and May 2012, and to publish widely the information on a dedicated website.”

The group said that “failure to comply with the request within 7 days of receipt and/or publication will compel us to seek appropriate legal action to enforce the FOI in your case.”

The request dated 26 June 2012 was signed by the group’s executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni.

According to the group, “The disclosure of the information requested will give SERAP and the general public a true picture of the assets of the president from May 2007 to May 2012, and will demonstrate the president’s oft-expressed commitment to transparency and accountability and show that your signing of the FOI was not just a public relation exercise but a public duty done in good faith.”

The group said that it is “concerned that your recent statement that you would not publicly declare your asset is a clear violation of the Nigerian Constitution and the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party, and entirely inconsistent with your oft-repeated promises to prevent and combat high-level official corruption in the country.”

“Your statement may also have breached the provisions of chapter two of the 1999 Constitution dealing with Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy, which among others require the government to take steps to eradicate corrupt practices and the abuse of power,” the group added.

“We are also concerned that your statement shows your government’s lack of political will to lead by example, and to combat the endemic grand corruption which has continued to have corrosive effects on the human rights, in particular economic and social rights of millions of Nigerians. Your statement is also inconsistent with the action of a president who signed into law and is supposedly committed to the effective implementation of the Freedom of Information Act,” the group also said.

The group also said that “We believe that disclosure of assets is crucial for ensuring that public officials’ personal interests including that of the president as the leader of the nation, do not conflict with their duties and responsibilities. Public disclosure also helps to provide a baseline and thus means for comparison to identify assets that may have been corruptly acquired and that a public official may legitimately be asked to account for.”

“Specifically, Section 153 of the Constitution establishes a Code of Conduct Bureau to ensure, among other things, that all public officers, as defined in Part II of the Fifth Schedule, declare their assets on assuming office and immediately their terms of office expire. Paragraph Three of Part 1 (A) of the Third Schedule, empowers the Bureau to receive declarations made by all public officers, examine same and keep them in custody. Paragraph 3(C) says the Bureau shall have the power to “retain custody of such declarations and make them available for inspection by any citizen of Nigeria on such terms and conditions as the National Assembly may prescribe.”

“Similarly, the UN Convention against Corruption requires public officials to make declarations to appropriate authorities regarding, inter alia, their outside activities, employment, investments, assets and substantial gifts or benefits from which a conflict of interest may result with respect to their functions as public officials,” the group also added.

The organization also said that, “By virtue of Section 1 (1) of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2011, SERAP is entitled as of right to request for or gain access to information, including information on the assets declaration by the president of Nigeria, being a public document within the meaning of the FOI, and which is in the custody or possession of any public official, agency or institution.”

According to the organization, “By virtue of Section 4 (a) of the FOI Act when a person makes a request for information from a public official, institution or agency, the public official, institution or urgency to whom the application is directed is under a binding legal obligation to provide the applicant with the information requested for, except as otherwise provided by the Act, within 7 days after the application is received.”

The organization also said that, “By Sections 2(3)(d)(V) & (4) of the FOI Act, your excellency is under a binding legal duty to ensure that documents containing information relating to your assets declaration are widely disseminated and made readily available to members of the public through various means.”

“The information being requested does not come within the purview of the types of information exempted from disclosure by the provisions of the FOI Act. The information requested for, apart from not being exempted from disclosure under the FOI Act, bothers on an issue of national interest, public concern, interest of human rights, social justice, good governance, transparency and accountability,” the organization also said.

When asked why he has not yet publicly declared his assets during his recent media chat the president responded that: “I don’t give a damn about that. The law is clear about it and so, making it public is no issue and I will not play into the hands of the people. I have nothing to hide. “I declared (assets publicly) under the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua because he did it, but it is not proper. I could be investigated when I leave office. “You don’t need to publicly declare it and it is a matter of principle. It is not the President declaring assets that will change the country.”

Click here to read SERAP’s letter to President Jonathan.