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Assets Declaration: Court Rules CCB Can Be Sued For Violating FOI Act
Justice Abdu Kafarati of the Federal High Court, Abuja, has granted two civil society organizations leave to sue the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, for failure to comply with provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, FOI, 2011.
This follows the hearing of a Motion Ex-parte filed by the two organizations, the Public and Private Development Centre, PPDC, and the African Centre for Media and Information Literacy, AFRICMIL, on the failure of the CCB to provide information on written declaration of assets of elected and appointed office holders under the FOI, Act 2011.
At the hearing, Godwin Chigbu, lawyer to the applicants, requested for leave of court to file a suit against the Code of Conduct Bureau on its failure to respond to the FOI requests made by both organizations.
According to joint statement issued by the organizations, AFRICIMIL requested for copies of written asset declaration of “the past and current principal officers of both Chambers of the 7th and 8th National Assembly, as required by the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.”
The PPDC on the other hand, had requested for copies of the written asset declaration of: “past and current governors of the 36 states in Nigeria, since 2011 till date… (and) past and current ministers of all ministries in Nigeria, since 2011 till date.
It also requested for copies of the asset declaration of former President, Goodluck Jonathan, and his Vice, Namadi Sambo upon their assumption of office on 29th May 2011 and after their exit from office, on 29th May 2015; as well as that of current President, Muhammadu Buhari and his vice, Yemi Osinbajo upon their assumption of office, on 29th May 2015, as required by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
Although both organizations made these requests under the Freedom of Information Act, 2011, the CCB failed to respond within the time stipulated in the Act, thereby leading to the filing of a motion ex-parte by both organizations.
The CCB has a constitutional responsibility to retain custody of written asset declaration forms of public officers and to make them available and accessible for inspection by any citizen of Nigeria on such terms and conditions as the national assembly may prescribe.