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Assets declaration: SERAP drags Buhari, Osinbajo to Appeal Court

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has asked the Court of Appeal to order the disclosure of President Muhammadu Buhari and his Vice, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo after the request was rejected by a Federal High Court.

It would be recalled that a Federal High Court in Lagos had on 11 May dismissed the application filed by the group seeking “an order of mandamus to direct and compel the Code of Conduct Bureau to make available to the public specific details of asset declarations submitted to it by successive presidents, vice-presidents, senate presidents, speakers of House of Representatives, state governors and their deputies since 1999.

SERAP in the appeal filed contended that, “The learned trial judge misinterpreted the provision and purport of paragraph 3[c], Third Schedule, Part 1 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended).

“The judge did not consider that the Freedom of information was enacted by the National Assembly in 2011 to grant public access to public documents.”

SERAP also argued that “the learned trial Judge erred in law by holding that the Freedom of information Act is a legislation of general nature in relation to public access to asset declaration forms of public officers.

“The judge erred in law when he held that SERAP’s application ‘is unmeritorious and it is accordingly dismissed.’”

“The failure or refusal by the CCB to provide the information requested by SERAP constitutes a violation of their right to freedom of information guaranteed by Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights,” SERAP argued.

The group is therefore seeking “an order allowing the Appeal, and setting aside the judgement of the Honourable Justice Muslim Hassan delivered on Monday, 11th May, 2020.”

SERAP had in suit number FHC/L/CS/1019/2019 argued that asset declarations of presidents and state governors submitted to the CCB are public documents.

“Public interest in disclosure of the details of asset declarations clearly outweighs any claim of protection of the privacy of presidents and state governors, as they are public officers entrusted with the duty to manage public funds, among other public functions.”

“Disclosing details of asset declarations of public officers such as presidents and state governors would improve public trust in the ability of the CCB to effectively discharge its mandate.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the appeal.

 

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