Court Strikes Out Suit Challenging Defection Of Saraki, Dogara And Others

Defection: Saraki, Dogara, 52 Others To Know Fate On May 17
A file photo of Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara

 

The Federal High Court in Abuja has struck out the suit filed by the Legal Defence and Assistant Project (LEDAP), challenging the defection of 53 lawmakers.

Delivering the judgement in the case on Friday, Justice Okon Abang said although the plaintiff has a good case and the good intention of promoting good political behavior and rule of law, it has no locus standi to sue.

He further explained that LEDAP was not a political party that sponsored the defected lawmakers, or the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which was conferred with the powers to monitor political parties.

He added that the plaintiff was neither a constituent of the defectors nor a registered voter that voted for them.

Beyond, that, Justice Abang said LEDAP had not put any thing before the court to show that the voters urged them to sue on their behalf and thereafter, the case was struck out.

Earlier, the judge had, however, stated that the defection of the 53 members of the National Assembly was unlawful based on the judgement of the Supreme Court, which had laid down reasons that would allow for defection.

Read Also: Defection Of Saraki, Dogara, 51 Others Is Unlawful – Says Judge

According to him, the lawmakers did not meet that requirement.

He further explained that there was no division of the kind recognized by the Supreme Court to allow the defendant – that is, the Senate President and 52 others retain their seat with the exception of the third defendant, Senator Godswill Akpabio.

He said this is so because in his view, at the time they claimed there was division in their parties which resulted in them decamping, those political parties were still functioning as political parties, hence, the division was not of the kind that will enable them decamp.

Defection Of Saraki, Dogara, 51 Others Is Unlawful – Says Judge

National Assembly Releases Details Of Its 2018 Budget

 

Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court has said that the defection of 53 members of the National Assembly is unlawful.

He stated this while ruling on a case seeking to remove the lawmakers for defecting from one party to another when there was no division in their parties as claimed.

According to him, their defection is unlawful and in violation of Section 68(1) G, which holds that except there is a division in a political party, any member of the National Assembly who defected from the political party that sponsored such a person, that person must vacate his or her seat in the assembly.


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Court Strikes Out Suit Challenging Defection Of Saraki, Dogara And Others


The judge said there was no division of the kind recognised by the Supreme Court to allow the defendant retain their seat.

He explained that this was so because, during the time they claimed there was division in their parties, those parties were still functioning as political parties.

Justice Abang said there was no evidence before the court to show that it is impossible and impracticable for those political parties they decamped from to function as political parties.

He insisted that the said division was not of the kind that would enable them defect to another party.

During the time they defected, according to the judge, those political parties were still functioning and attending to their programmes and activities.

He noted that he agreed with the counsel to the plaintiff that the lawmakers defected at the time their parties needed them most.

Justice Abang said there was no division, neither was there any merger of a kind envisaged in the Constitution to avail them justifications to seek the protection of the court.

He highlighted that the parties they left were not infested with the virus of division and if that was the case, why didn’t one of the factions approach a court for recognition.

The judge stressed that at the time they defected from the APC and ADC, there was no faction that stopped the parties from functioning as political parties.

He, however, said the lawmakers only made reference to a division to enable them to scale through their judicial iniquities.

An advocacy group, Legal Aides Assistant Project (LEDAP), had instituted the case against the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, as well as 52 other lawmakers.

On whether the plaintiff has a locus standi, Justice Abang held that the plaintiff was not a political party that sponsored the defected lawmakers, or the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conferred with the powers to monitor political parties.

He added that LEDAP was neither a constituent of the defectors nor a registered voter that voted for them.

Justice Abang said the plaintiff has not put anything before the court to show that the voters urged them to sue on their behalf.

He added that the group did not show any injury it would suffer if its prayers were not granted.

The judge noted that the plaintiff has a good case and a good intention of promoting good political behaviour and rule of law.

He also said its action was aimed at ensuring political stability in the country and stopping the selfishness exhibited by politicians.

Justice Abang, however, ruled that the plaintiff had no locus standi to sue the lawmakers.

He said, “How I wish the plaintiff has a locus standi. They have a good case but I cannot go ahead to deliver judgment when the plaintiff will not suffer any injury.

“There is nothing before the court showing where the plaintiff has suffered any loss as a result of the action of the lawmakers.”

The judge added, “This court has the capacity to determine whether the lawmakers should lose their seat but the plaintiff must have a locus standi, except there is a fiat from the Attorney-General of the Federation who has the locus to sue on behalf of the generality of Nigerian, and the plaintiff did not obtain that fiat.”

“The plaintiff not having locus standi has no right to come to court,” he held.

Justice Abang stated that the court cannot take a decision affecting the defected lawmakers without hearing from the persons that nominated them.

In respect of the main case, as it affects the Senate President, the Speaker, and 52 others, the judge struck out the plaintiff’s case.

He, however, held that the plaintiff’s case against former Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill, lacked merit because the senator did not defect.

According to him, Senator Akpabio only joined the All Progressives Congress after he was expelled by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Defection Suit: Court Grants Saraki, Dogara, Akpabio, Others Until April 17 To Respond

 

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has given the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, the Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, former PDP Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio and 50 other lawmakers, until April 17 to file their responses to a suit asking them to vacate their seats.

The suit filed by Legal Defense and Assistance Project (LEDAP) urged the court to declare that the lawmakers are no longer members of the National Assembly, after defecting to other political parties without proof of division before the expiration of their tenure.

At the resumed hearing, Efut Okoi represented the affected senators, while Safiya Mohammed represented the members of the house of representatives.

READ ALSO: UPDATED: National Assembly Releases Details Of Its 2018 Budget

Meanwhile, counsel to LEDAP, Jubrin Okutepa, described the sudden change of counsels by the defendants as a ploy to frustrate the case.

He urged the court to ask the previous defense counsel, Mahmud Magaji, to appear and argue his earlier application.

“These are defendants who were served the process of the court since November 2, 2018 and by the rules of court, they had 14 days within which to file their counter affidavit and defense if any.

“Yesterday they stalled proceedings, today again, they came with different lawyers, different processes, confronting us in court. So, the system of justice must not be allowed to suffer a shipwreck by deliberate antics.”

Okutepa added that the essence of the suit is to seek constitutional interpretation and make necessary corrections where necessary.

“This is a simple but fundamental case that involves tax payers money, we are saying you have defected from one party to the other, then the constitution says vacate and you are still there making laws, collecting salaries. We are saying, look, you can’t do that, we operate a constitutional democracy and we are here to simply interpret the constitution.”

Justice Okon Abang, after listening to all the parties, held that it is in the interest of justice to hear all counsel in the matter and subsequently adjourned further hearing to April 18,2019.

Free Basic Education An Enforceable Right; Court Declares

Court Declares Free Basic Education An Enforceable RightA Federal High Court in Abuja has declared that every Nigerian child has the constitutional right to free and compulsory primary education, and free junior secondary education.

In a suit filed by a non-governmental organisation, Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP), against the Federal Ministry of Education and the Attorney General of the Federation, Justice John Tsoho also declared that the Federal and State governments have constitutional duties to provide adequate funds for it.

In the suit, LEDAP asked the court to determine whether by the combined effect of Section 18 (3)(a) of the 1999 Constitution and Section 2 (1) of the Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education Act, (UBE) 2004, the right to free and compulsory primary education and free junior secondary education for all qualified Nigerian citizens are enforceable rights in Nigeria.

Justice Tsoho, who relied on a 2002 decision of the Supreme Court, held that by enacting the UBE Act, the National Assembly has made the right to free and compulsory primary and free junior secondary education contained in Chapter 2 an enforceable or justiciable right.

Reacting to the judgment, the lead counsel to LEDAP, Mr Chino Obiagwu, said that the court on Wednesday gave life and hope to over 28 million Nigerian children who are currently out of primary and junior secondary school, or who are at risk of being withdrawn from school because of the inability of their parents or guardians to pay the tuition fees and school expenses, or who are withdrawn from school so that they can be given out in early marriage or be sent to the streets to hawk or beg for alms.

By this judgment, any child not enrolled in school or who is withdrawn from school can exercise his or her constitutional rights against the parent, guardian or government.

And failure by any government to fund free primary and junior secondary education will constitute a breach of the constitution.

LEDAP Condemns Killing Of Death Row Prisoners In Benin City

LEDAPThe Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) has condemned the killing of three death row prisoners in Benin City Prison.

The group, in a statement on Wednesday by its national coordinator, Chino Obiagwu, noted that the death warrants of those executed were signed by the Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki.

The convicts: Ogbomoro Omoregie, Apostle Igene and Mark Omosowhota were executed on December 23 2016 in Edo State, south-south Nigeria.

They were all convicted and sentenced to death about 20 years ago by military tribunals under the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Decree as amended.

LEDAP noted that in an earlier petition it submitted to the Governor on behalf of the executed prisoners on December 21, 2016, protesting the plan for their execution, the prisoners had pleaded with the Governor to shelve the planned execution, saying there was a pending case at the Court of Appeal brought by all death row prisoners in Nigeria against their execution.

They pointed out that the appeal had not been decided and maintained that it was illegal to carry out the executions.

“LEDAP is appalled that the earliest social duty of Governor Obaseki upon assumption of office was execution of his citizen on death row. We reiterate that all prisoners, including those sentenced to death, retain all the fundamental rights endowed on all citizens by the 1999 Constitution. This was re-emphasised by the Court of Appeal in the case of Peter Nemi vs Attorney General of Lagos State in 1994. The Supreme Court of Nigeria also held in Nasir Bello vs Attorney-General of Oyo State that a prisoner cannot be legally executed while his case is pending in court.

Death Penalty Moratorium

“In so far as an appeal against the sentences of the death row prisoners in Nigeria are pending in court, to the knowledge of the prison authorities and the government who participated in the high court proceedings before the appeal, there is no legal justification for the Edo executions, more so when it was carried out cruelly on a day to the eve of Christmas.

“It is also appalling that Edo State government carried out the execution despite the declaration by Nigerian Government at its 2009 and 2014 Universal Periodic Reports (UPR) to the United Nations Human Rights Council that Nigeria has put in place a moratorium on the use of the death penalty.

“The December 23, 2016 execution of these three prisoners, as well as similar execution of four prisoners on June 21 2013 by the same Edo State government have undermined Nigeria’s declarations to the international community for death penalty moratorium,” the group said.

LEDAP has further called on the Federal Government to stop all death penalty executions forthwith.

“The National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly should amend the Criminal Code and Penal Code, as well as the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act to remove death sentence as punishment for crimes and replace it with life imprisonment or term of years’ sentence,” the group proposed.

LEDAP Sues DSS, AGF Over Arrest Of Judges

judgesThe Legal Defence and Assistance Project says it has filed a suit against the Department of State Services and the Attorney General of the Federation over the arrest and arraignment of some judges.

LEDAP is asking the Federal High Court, Abuja to declare as unlawful the raid and arrest of judges by the State Security Services, and to grant an order to stop the planned charge and arraignment in court of some of the arrested judges over allegations of corruption.

The group claims in the suit that the judges cannot be charged and arraigned in court without the authorization of the National Judicial Council.

In a motion on notice for interlocutory injunction filed at the Federal High Court Abuja ion Tuesday, LEDAP is asking the court for “an order restraining the DSS and AGF from filing any charge in court or arraigning before any court or arresting and/or detaining, inviting for questioning or searching the office or residence of any of the judicial officers or any other judicial officer in Nigeria unless with the authorization and referral of the National Judicial Council…”

In the originating summons filed along with the motion for injunction, the non-governmental organization asked the court to declare that the statutory functions of the DSS is the prevention and detection of crime against the internal security of Nigeria.

The organization argues that the DSS is not authorized to effect the arrest of the judges under the law setting it up – the National Security Agencies Act.

It added that the arrest and arraignment of the judges by DSS is “ultra vires and unlawful.”

In a press release signed by the National Coordinator and Lead Counsel of LEDAP, Chino Obiagwu, the organization also wants the court to order the DSS to “forthwith cease, terminate, and withdraw any charge, information, arrest or invitation of any of the judicial officers.”

The court is yet to fix a date to hear the suit.

LEDAP Condemns Senate’s Decision To Summon Judges

LEDAP, Senate, JudgesThe Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) has condemned the plan by the Senate Committee on Judiciary to summon the judges who were recently arrested by the DSS.

LEDAP’s National Coordinator, Mr Chino Obiagwu, in a statement on Sunday, notes that the legislature has no oversight power over judicial officers under the constitutional principle of separation of powers in sections 4, 5 and 6 of the 1999 Constitution.

Mr Obiagwu explained that it is only the National Judicial Council (NJC) that has the power of control and discipline of judges and justices of superior courts in Nigeria.

“Any interference by the legislature or the executive into the conduct of judges in carrying out their judicial functions will amount to unlawful interference with the independence of the judiciary.

“The 1999 Constitution, unlike the legal framework of past military regimes, has consolidated the independence of the judiciary and established the NJC as the only body responsible for management of the judiciary,” he stated.

The statement further reads in part: “LEDAP is concerned that the recent raid and arrest of judges and justices by the DSS, and continued assault and raid on judges by other agencies of the executive, have the effect of opening up the judiciary to unlawful and unconstitutional interference and intimidation by other arms of government, the reason for which the Senate has the temerity to speak about inviting judicial officers for questioning.

“LEDAP will shortly approach the courts to seek orders restraining any such invitation or summon of the arrested judicial officers as it amounts to attempt to brow-beat and intimidate the judiciary.

“There are a lot of corruption issues and corrupt politicians in the legislature and executive which should preoccupy the Senators.

“The scandal arising from the padding of the budget, which has been going on for many years in the legislature with connivance of the executive, as well as bogus and secretive huge allowances and emoluments claimed by legislators are more damaging economic crimes against the Nigerian people that the Senate should address rather than intimidating few judges alleged to be corrupt.

“There are several court orders directing the National Assembly to disclose salaries and emoluments of its members, and details of constituency allowances claimed yearly by legislators. It has refused to obey these judgements of the courts.

“Nigerian legislators, adjudged as the most corrupt and most expensive in the world, has no legal or moral right to superintendent over alleged corruption in the judiciary.”

LEDAP called on the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to resist attempts by the executive and legislature “to control and manage the judiciary” as such situation will on the long run denigrate the judiciary and legal profession and threaten the rule of law.

Judges Arrest: LEDAP Asks Lawyers To Boycott Courts This Week

NBA, LEDAP on judges arrestThe Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) has condemned the raid of residences of some judges in Nigeria, and the arrest of some of them by the Department of state Services (DSS).

It described the night raid as a flagrant assault on the rule of law and interference with the integrity and independence of judges, saying it amounts to crass intimidation of judges, which is the first line of attack of dictatorships.

Attack On The Judiciary

LEDAP called on all lawyers to rise in unison to condemn what it called an attack on the judiciary by the executive and in protest boycott the courts next week from Monday, October 10 to Friday, October 14.

It said the action would send a strong message to the President Buhari regime that the legal profession would not stand by and watch the desecration and denigration of the judiciary.

“It is to the detriment of the Bar and Bench in Nigeria for the security agencies to make spurious allegations and illegally try judges in the pages of newspapers.

“It raises wrong and unjustified public perception of the justice system, and impugns on public confidence in justice and governance,” a statement by the spokesman for LEDAP, Chino Obiagwu, read.

The group asked the Federal Government to investigate and punish security officials implicated in the unwholesome act.

“It was wrong to execute improperly issued and illegally executed search warrants at night on judges, and in any event, without prior recourse to the head of the judiciary.

“The constitutional principle of separation of powers is sacrosanct and once eroded, will drive Nigeria to a tyranny,” Chino Obiagwu added.

It is the second group that is threatening to scuttle judicial activities if the arrested judges were not released.

Earlier, the Nigerian Bar Association has called for the immediate and unconditional release of the judges.

The group said their arrest was unconstitutional, declaring a state of emergency in the judiciary.

It says the arrests are disturbing and unconstitutional, describing it a situation that had never been witnessed.

The President of the NBA, Mr Abubakar Mahmoud, at a briefing in Lagos, warned the Federal Government of “grave consequences” should the demands not be met.

Mr Mahmoud said two Supreme Court justices, Inyang Okoro and Sylvester Ngwuta, were “abducted” with their families.

Not Under Military Rule

He said: “I want to, on behalf of the Bar Association, make the very following clear and unequivocal demands.

“We demand the immediate, unconditional release of all the judges abducted from about 9:00pm yesterday (Friday).

“The release must be done immediately and without any conditions.

“We demand that the Department of State Services (DSS) should limit itself to its statutory and constitutional responsibilities.

“It is not the responsibility of the DSS to perform duties meant for police officers and other agencies of the state.

“I want to emphasise again that we are not under military rule and we cannot accept this ‘unholy events’ and this ‘gestapo style of operations’.

“We therefore call on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately call all the state security agencies to order and to respect the rule of law and due process.

“Any issue affecting the judicial officers, there are established processes and to edited for handling them and we demand that these constitutional processes must be obeyed”.

“Given the unfolding nature of the events and the seriousness of the situation, the NBA hereby declares a state of emergency as it affects the affairs of the judiciary”.

Investigated For Corruption

The DSS had on Friday night raided some judges’ homes, arresting some of them in the process.

In Rivers State, however, the Governor of the state, Nyesom Wike prevented the DSS from arresting a judge.

He said the DSS officials had come to pick the judge about 1:00a.m. local time.

The DSS says the judges are being investigated for corruption. It gave figures of amounts it had recovered from the judges in a statement on Saturday.

But the Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, condemned the arrest questioning if “the affected judges been reported to the National Judicial Council (NJC), the body saddled with the responsibilities of investigating and sanctioning erring judges? Were the affected judges ever invited by the DSS and they refused to honour the invitation”?

He described the arrests as a direct assault on the judiciary.

Governor Fayose, who addressed reporters in Ado-Ekiti on Saturday, said: “It should now be obvious to all Nigerians and the international community that democracy is under threat in Nigeria and Nigerians must rise to save democracy from being truncated.

“For all intent and purposes, there is no how the federal government can justify the gestapo and crude action of the DSS against our judiciary, the last hope of the common man and I believe they just want to hide under anti-corruption fight to blackmail and intimidate the judiciary”.

Two Juveniles On Death Row In Lagos Set Free

Death by hangingAfter spending 10 years in prison and 5 years on death row, the Court of Appeal in Lagos, on Thursday discharged and acquitted Sopuruchi Obed and Otobong Sunday Edet who were convicted and sentenced to death for armed robbery by the Lagos State High Court on 29 August 2009.

They were barely 17 years old when arrested on September 30, 2004 on allegations by Police at Igando police station that they were part of a group of young men seen by a police informant spending lavishly at a beer parlour, and overheard boasting of their unlawful escapades.

No one testified of being robbed by any of them. On those allegations, they were arrested, charged and eventually convicted.

Following the appeal against their conviction and sentence filed in 2011 by LEDAP – Legal Defence & Assistance Project, a panel of Justices of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division unanimously allowed their separate appeals and set aside their conviction and sentence. The court resolved 2 out of 3 issues raised for determination in the appeal in their favour.

In particular, the court found that the evidence of the prosecution witnesses were mere hearsay and that the vital evidence required to prove the charges were not provided by the prosecution. Moreso, at the time of the incident, Mr. Obed and Mr. Otobong were under-aged persons who ought to have been taken to Juvenile Court rather than a High Court. The justices of the Court of Appeal decried the High Court for not making detailed inquiry into the ages of the appellants.

Under the Nigerian law, persons under the age of 17 years have diminished criminal responsibility and those under the age of 18 years must be treated as children and only tried at the Family or juvenile courts in accordance with the Child Rights Act or Laws.

Incidents of charging and trying juveniles in adult courts are rampant in Nigeria, and there is little or no hesitation with many trial courts sentencing them to death, despite provisions of the law prohibiting sentencing persons under the age of 18 years, insane persons or pregnant women to death.

In a 2008 joint report by LEDAP and Amnesty International titled ‘Nigeria: Waiting for the hangman” it was reported that nearly 46 of the 1200 or so death row prisoners in the country’s 10 maximum security prisons could be children at the time the alleged offences were committed and at the time of their convictions. The situation remains the same today. Most of the condemned juveniles have been convicted based on questionable confessional statements obtained by the Police upon their arrests.

Commenting on the judgment today, and deprecating the continued use of death penalty in the country with its high risk of mistaken convictions, Mr. Chino Edmund Obiagwu, the lawyer to Mr. Obed and Mr. Otobong, said that “this case presents another opportunity for deep soul-searching by our criminal justice leaders and legislators on continued imposition of death sentences in the country with such imperfect criminal justice system, which range from poor police investigation to inefficient prosecution and unduly protracted trial processes. Nearly 7 out of every 10 death penalty appeals that LEDAP has handled in the last two years have resulted in the acquittal of the appellants, suggesting a very high rate of wrongful capital convictions.”

LEDAP called on the Nigerian Government to reconsider its stand on the use of capital punishment by abolishing the death penalty and replacing same with life imprisonment or other humane alternatives.

Same Sex Bill Is Unnecessary In Nigeria – LEDAP

The recent passage of the anti-gay bill by the national assembly is unnecessary as same sex marriage has already been declared illegal since 1949 when the marriage act was enacted in the country.

This is the view of a legal practitioner, Mr Chino Obiagwu who also serves as the National Coordinator of Legal Defence and Assistance Project, LEDAP, a non-governmental organisation which champions human rights and the rule of law.

While answering questions from our judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele, Mr Obiagwu says that the bill is merely an attempt to respond to international pressure on right to sexual orientation.

Same-sex Marriage Has Been Illegal In Nigeria Since 1949

The recent passage of the anti-gay bill by the National Assembly is unnecessary as same sex marriage has already been declared illegal since 1949 when the Marriage Act was enacted in the country.

This is the view of a legal practitioner, Mr Chino Obiagwu who also serves as the National Coordinator of Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP), a non-governmental organisation which champions human rights and the rule of law.

Mr. Obiagwu believes that the bill is merely an attempt to respond to international pressure on right to sexual orientation.

Court Fixes Hearing On Asset Declaration Case

The National Coordinator of the Legal Defence And Assistance Project (LEDAP), Chino Obiagwu has said that the hearing for the case filed by the organisation against the Code of Conduct Bureau has been fixed for April 4 2013 by the Federal High Court Abuja.

LEDAP had filed a suit in July 2012 against the Code of Conduct Bureau demanding copies of the asset declarations of all federal ministers, state governors, the President and Vice President.

LEDAP had filed the suit to enforce its request to the bureau under the Freedom of Information Act.

However, the bureau claimed in its response that the Freedom of Information Act exempted it from disclosing declaration of assets of public officials because the asset declaration forms contain personal information about the assets of the officials and of their spouses and unmarried children.

In a letter signed by the Chairman of the bureau to LEDAP in July 2012, the agency said that it would not allow the public to know about the personal information of public officials because it has been exempted under sections 13(1)(v) and 15(1)(ii) of the Freedom of Information Act.

The Code of Conduct Bureau in the letter stated that “we note that Section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act, as a general principle, guarantees the right of any person to access or request for information whether or in written form, which is in custody of Code of Conduct Bureau or indeed any public agency.  However, by Section 13(1)(v) of the Act, the Code of Conduct Bureau has power to decline your request as it will constitute an invasion of the personal privacy of the honourable ministers under section 15 of the Act. The asset declaration forms contain personal information about them and their properties, assets and liabilities and those of their spouses and unmarried children under the age of 18 and consequently comes under the exemption
under Section 13(1)(v) and 15(1)(ii) of the Act.”

In a statement released to Channels Television, LEDAP’s lawyer, Chino Obiagwu says that the claim by the bureau is not correct under the law. The information that the Bureau says are exempted under the FOI Act are the main target of the asset declaration law.

According to Mr Obiagwu, “the purpose of assets declaration laws is to enable the public and citizens know the worth of its public officials and their close relations so as to monitor how they acquire assets while in office and whether or not public funds are used for such acquisitions. This purpose cannot be achieved if the declarations are not accessible to the public. There is nothing private about the assets declaration. Any person who assumes public office must be ready to face public scrutiny”

LEDAP has now called on the judiciary to decide once and for all on the right of citizens to know the assets of their elected leaders and their spouse in order to monitor and report unlawful acquisitions. There is no way we can tackle corruption in this country if the civil society and indeed the citizens cannot have access to information on assets declared by the public officials and their dependants who they can use for unlawful acquisition of assets from misappropriated public fund”.