The Code of Conduct Bureau says it will not make public the details of assets declared by President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo due to limitations in federal laws covering such release, the office has said.
The presidency said those details will be made available after the Code of Conduct Bureau authenticates claims in the declaration forms.
There has been controversy following the inability of President Buhari and his Deputy Osinbajo to release details of their assets since their inauguration May 29, despite the promise to do so.
Buhari pledged to publicly declare his assets despite the lack of a law requiring him to do so as the 1999 Constitution stated that office holders declare their assets, without requiring them to do so publicly.
A civil society group, Stop Impunity Nigeria, an affiliate of the Centre for Social Justice, had on June 1, 2015 applied to the CCB to request copies of the completed assets declaration forms by the President and his deputy.
The application, signed by the Lead Director of the Centre, Eze Onyekpere, was pursuant to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, FOIA, 2011.
But, in its response CCB/HQ/670/G/1/104 dated June 10, 2015 and signed by Ijeanuli Ofor on behalf of the Chairman, the CCB declined the request, citing the absence of prescribed law by the National Assembly authorizing the release of such information to the public.
The Bureau however, conceded the right by Nigerians under section 1(1) 3 and 4 of the FOIA 2011, to “access or request information, whether written or not in written form, in the custody of any public agency”.
According to the Bureau, regardless of this, ‘’sections 12(1) (a) (v), 14(1) (b) and 15(1)9a) of the same Act empowered it to decline any request, which it considered an invasion of personal privacy.
“Assets declarations by public officers contain such personal information, which falls within the exemptions to the disclosure of information in the FOIA,” the Bureau added, explaining further that, paragraph 3(c of the Third Schedule, Part 1 of the constitution (as amended) empowered it to “make assets declarations of public officers available for inspection by any citizen of Nigeria only on terms and conditions prescribed by the National Assembly.
“However, the terms and conditions under which that can be done have not yet been prescribed by the National Assembly.”