Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the president-elect, has been urged by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) to “start with a clean slate by promptly making public details of your assets, income, investments, liabilities, and interests and to encourage your Vice-President-Elect to do the same.”
SERAP also urged him to “immediately prioritise the full and effective respect for human rights, media freedom, the rule of law and the country’s judiciary including by promptly obeying countless court judgments which the government of President Muhammadu Buhari has repeatedly treated with utter contempt and disdain.”
In an open letter dated 27 May 2023 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “SERAP notes your recent promise to “kill corruption’. However, this rhetoric is nothing new: the outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari used similar hollow anticorruption phrase in 2015.
“As Nigerians have witnessed for eight years, Buhari has neither ‘killed corruption’ nor obeyed court judgments on transparency and accountability.”
“Widely publishing details of your assets, income, investments and liabilities and encouraging your Vice-President-Elect and others to do the same would allow Nigerians to know your worth and the worth of other public officials.
“If your election is upheld by the judiciary, your government can use transparency in asset declarations as a means of promoting public accountability and ending systemic corruption in the country.”
The letter, read in part, “Buhari’s broken promises to make specific details of his assets public and to ‘kill corruption’ have opened up the country’s political and electoral processes to a money free-for-all, discouraged political participation and contributed to impunity for corruption.
“Although President Buhari’s march to Aso Rock was predicated, in large part, on his campaign rhetoric to ‘kill corruption’, corruption remains widespread among high-ranking public officials and in ministries, departments and agencies [MDAs].
“Making public details of your assets, liabilities, and interests would reduce unjust enrichment of public officials, ensure integrity in public offices and promote transparency and accountability as well as good governance.
“Article 7(1) of the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption also provides a similar requirement 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 39 of the Nigerian Constitution makes provision for the fundamental right to information. Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights also guarantee access to information.”
“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.”