It was gathered that civil society groups and activists on Sunday faulted the failure by President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo to publicly declare their assets as promised by them during their electioneering.
They have therefore demanded that the assets be made public in the best interest of transparency and accountability.
The groups and the activists are the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, the Civil Societies Legislative and Advocacy Centre, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa and Smart Ajaja.
A statement by the head of Buhari’s media team, Garba Shehu, on Saturday had indicated that the President and the Vice-President had submitted their assets declaration forms separately to the Code of Conduct Bureau on Thursday. The contents of the forms were however not disclosed.
Shehu’s statement immediately sparked controversy over the willingness of the President and the Vice-President to make their assets known to the public. The statement had indicated that by the submission of their forms to the CCB, they had fulfilled their electoral promise.
According to the statement, the CCB, through its Chairman, Sam Saba, had on Friday acknowledged the receipt of the forms.
Buhari’s declaration identity number was given as “President: 000001/2015.”
The statement had read in part, “By declaring their assets, President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo may have not only fulfilled the requirements of the Nigerian Constitution, but also fulfilled the first of their many campaign promises.
“While seeking election into the highest office in the land, the President had promised Nigerians that he would publicly declare his assets as soon as he took over government.”
But SERAP, in a statement by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, argued that the “declaration before the CCB alone fell short of the commitment to publicly declare their assets.”
It said, “SERAP recalls that the President had said before the election that he would publicly declare his assets and liabilities, and encourage all his appointees to publicly declare their assets and liabilities as a pre-condition for appointment.
“We now expect the President to fulfil this promise to the Nigerian people. We trust that the President and Vice President will move swiftly to publicly declare their assets and to publish widely the information on a dedicated website.
“Public disclosure of assets will give the general public a true picture of the assets of the President and Vice President and will send a powerful message that it is not going to be business as usual with this government.
“This will also follow the best practice by former President Umaru Yar’Adua, boost this government’s fight against corruption and impunity of perpetrators.’’
The group maintained that the public disclosure of assets was crucial for ensuring that public officials’ personal interests, including that of the President and Vice President did not conflict with their duties and responsibilities.
It stated that public disclosure provided a baseline and means for comparison to identify assets that might have been corruptly acquired and that a public official might legitimately be asked to account for.
SERAP also “urged the President to urgently take measures to seek amendment to the law relating to declaration of assets to include the requirement of public disclosure so as to bring it in line with international standards and best practices such as the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.”
Also, CISLAC said Nigerians were requesting that President and the Vice President make public their asset declarations to increase transparency.
Its Executive Director , Awual Musa, said even though the two top government functionaries had fulfilled the constitutional requirement of submitting their asset declaration forms, they needed to take it a step further by making it public.