Experts Criticize Code of Conduct Bureau’s Silence on FOI Request for Presidents’ Assets

Experts have raised concerns over the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) for not responding to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request regarding the assets declared by President Bola Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima.

The request was submitted by The Punch on June 22, 2023, seeking details about the assets declared by the President and Vice President.

However, despite the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2011 requiring such information to be disclosed within seven days, the CCB has remained silent for 48 days.

FOI Request Sent to CCB Goes Unanswered

The Punch sent an FOI request to the CCB, titled “FOI request for details of President Bola Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima’s assets.”

The request was addressed to CCB Chairman Isa Muhammed and received on June 26, 2023.

The aim was to obtain the assets’ details for publication as they are of public interest.

Despite the legal requirement for a response within seven days, the CCB has not provided the requested information.

Violation of Freedom of Information Act

Experts, including human rights lawyer Deji Ajare, have criticized the CCB’s refusal to respond to the FOI request.

Ajare stated that the refusal goes against the principles of the Freedom of Information Act enacted in 2011.

The Act aims to ensure transparency, accountability, and access to public records, including the assets declarations of public officials.

Ajare highlighted that withholding the assets’ details undermines transparency, accountability, and citizens’ trust in the government’s integrity.

Legal Perspectives on FOI Act and Asset Disclosure

Festus Ogun, a public-interest lawyer, also expressed his views on the situation.

He pointed out that while Nigerian courts have interpreted the law on asset declaration as not explicitly requiring public access to such information, the President and Vice President should voluntarily disclose their assets for the sake of transparency and accountability.

Ogun emphasized that the law should serve the citizens’ interests and promote good governance.

The lack of response from the CCB to the FOI request has raised concerns about transparency, accountability, and citizens’ right to access information.

The delay in providing the requested information has sparked discussions about the government’s commitment to combating corruption and fostering integrity within the highest levels of leadership.

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