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SERAP sues CCB over ‘claim on privacy of asset declarations of presidents, governors’

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit in the Federal High Court, Lagos, against the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) over the bureau’s claim that it could not disclose details of the asset declarations submitted to it by successive Presidents and governors since 1999.

The group quoted SERAP as saying that doing so “would offend the right to privacy of presidents and state governors”.

Last week, the CCB refused a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by SERAP, saying: “Asset declaration form is private information.”

But in the suit it filed last Friday, SERAP said: “Asset declarations of Presidents and governors submitted to the CCB are public documents. Public interest in disclosure of the details of asset declarations sought by SERAP clearly outweighs any claim of protection of the privacy of Presidents and governors, as they are public officers entrusted with the duty to manage public funds, among other public functions.”

The organisation cited many laws to buttress its argument for the request for the information.

It is seeking the following reliefs:

“An order granting leave to the applicant to apply for judicial review and to seek an order of mandamus directing and compelling the respondent to compile and make available to the applicant information on specific details of asset declarations submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau by successive Presidents, Vice Presidents, Senate Presidents, Speakers of House of Representatives, State Governors and Deputy Governors from 1999 to 2019 and to publish widely, including on a dedicated website, any such information.

“An order granting leave to the applicant to apply for judicial review and to seek an order of mandamus directing and compelling the respondent to compile and make available to the applicant information on the number of asset declarations so far verified by the Code of Conduct Bureau and the number of those declarations found to be false and deemed to be in breach of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers by the Bureau and to publish widely including on a dedicated website, any such information.

“An order granting leave to the applicant to apply for Judicial Review and to seek an order of mandamus directing and compelling the respondent to immediately take cases of false asset declarations to the Code of Conduct Tribunal for effective prosecution of suspects, and include banning the politicians involved from holding public offices for at least a period of 10 years and seeking refund of stolen public funds as part of the reliefs to be sought before the tribunal.”

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

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