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Code Of Conduct Bureau Blocks Access To Assets Of Top Public Officials

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The Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, has refused to provide details of the assets declaration of past and current elected office holders from 2011 till date, in spite of several Freedom of Information, FOI, requests to this effect.

Three separate FOI requests were sent to the CCB by two Non-Governmental Organisations, NGOs namely: the African Centre for Media and Information Literacy, AFRICMIL, and the Public and Private Development Centre, PPDC, between January 18 and February 6 this year, demanding access to the assets declaration of the political officers.

The Freedom Of Information Act was passed by the 7th National Assembly and signed into law by former President Goodluck Jonathan, and it states that the public has a right to access public documents held by public institutions and relevant entities in Nigeria.

The Act makes it obligatory for government agencies to provide any information sought by any Nigerian within seven days, so long as the information does not bother on National Security.

A statement released by AFRICMIL’s Godwin Onyeacholem and PPDC’s Ugochi Ekwueme, indicated that AFRICMIL sought to know the assets declared before the CCB by past and serving principal officers of the National Assembly before their assumption of office and after exit.

The PPDC requested to know the assets declared by all 36 state governors and all ministers going back to 2011, as well as that of former president Goodluck Jonathan, former vice president Namadi Sambo and current President Muhammadu Buhari and vice president Yemi Osinbajo.

The law requires Public office holders to declare their assets at the start and end of their tenure before the CCB.

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It is the responsibility of the CCB to verify the assets and keep custody of asset declaration forms which it has to make available for inspection by any citizen.

The PPDC stated that “it is also their (the CCB) responsibility to ensure that the assets declared are verified to ensure compliance with the provisions of the law and also to establish possible cases of misconduct or corrupt enrichment, with a view to ensuring such culprits face the full wrath of the law.”

AFRICMIL and PPDC routinely put out FOI requests to public institutions but is yet to get response from CCB.

CCB ranked 12th in the latest FOI compliance ranking by PPDC for not proactively disclosing public information and taking up to seven days to respond to FOI request.

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