It is time to publish your assets, SERAP tells Tinubu

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has called on President Bola Tinubu to immediately publish his asset declaration form.

SERAP in a statement, urged President Tinubu to “use the anniversary of your first year in office as an opportunity to demonstrate your oft-expressed commitment to democracy, accountability, and openness in government by immediately publishing your asset declaration form.”

SERAP asked him “to encourage your Vice-President Kashim Shettima, ministers, and state governors to also widely publish their asset declaration forms.”

SERAP also urged him “to urgently propose a constitutional amendment to include provisions on the creation of asset declaration database to publish government officials’ asset declaration forms before, during, and after serving in public office.”

Vice President, Mr. Kashim Shettima

In the open letter dated by its deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP said: “Widely publishing your asset declaration form and encouraging your Vice-President, ministers, and state governors to also widely publish their assets would serve legitimate public interests.”

It said: “publishing your asset declaration form and encouraging others to do so would also promote public trust and establish a system of transparency, accountability and public participation.”

According to SERAP, “Openness and transparency in the details of asset declaration forms of high-level public officials would strengthen the country’s democracy and promote accountability at all levels of government.”

The letter, read, “You promised in your inaugural speech on May 29, 2023 ‘to take proactive steps to discourage corruption’, and to ensure that ‘Nigeria is impartially governed according to the constitution and the rule of law.’

“We urge you to use your first anniversary in office as an important opportunity to underscore and reaffirm your oft-repeated commitment to democratic governance, openness and public accountability by immediately taking concrete steps to implement the proposed recommendations.

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“According to the Code of Conduct for Public Officers, contained in Part I of the Fifth Schedule to the 1999 Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], all public officers are to declare their assets.

“Paragraph 11(1)(a)(b) of the Fifth Schedule provides that every public officer shall immediately after taking office and thereafter (a) at the end of every four years; and (b) at the end of his/her term of office, submit to the Code of Conduct Bureau a written declaration of all his properties, assets, and liabilities and those of his unmarried children under the age of 18 years.

“Section 15(1) of the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB and Tribunal Act also requires all public officers to declare their assets.

“Article 7(1) of the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption and Articles 7(4) and 8(5) of the UN Convention against Corruption also contain similar provisions and requirements for public officials to declare their assets before, during, and after serving in public office.

“The Nigerian Constitution and the anticorruption and human rights treaties show the significant role that asset declaration by public officials plays in promoting transparency, accountability and preventing and combating corruption in the public service.

“Section 109 of the Evidence Act defines a public document to include documents forming the acts or records of the acts of public officers. Asset declaration forms kept with the Code of Conduct Bureau therefore qualify as public documents under section 109.

“We hope that the aspects highlighted will help guide your steps in taking steps to publish your asset declaration form and to encourage others to do so,” the letter added.

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