Public officers have an obligation under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act (Cap C15 LFN 2004) to declare their assets and those of their spouses and dependent minors. These declarations are made by both elected and appointed public officials and deposited with the Code of Conduct Bureau.
Specifically, Paragraph 3, Part 1 of the 3rd Schedule to the 1999 Constitution and Paragraph 11, Part 1 of the 5th Schedule to the same Constitution requires the Code of Conduct Bureau to collect, verify and make available to the public the duly filled assets declaration forms of these public office holders. These forms have never been disclosed. With the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) in place the Bureau has as an obligation under Section 1 to allow for public access to this information.
12 years after the onset of elective civilian government in Nigeria and with the passage of the Freedom of Information Act, the Bureau has failed to endow itself with the capacity to verify the claims made in the assets declaration forms of public officials and has continued to stonewall Nigerians who seek access to this information in order to verify the claims made in them. By this action, the Code of Conduct Bureau abdicates its constitutional responsibility which mandates it to receive, examine, retain in its custody and allow for public access to these asset declaration forms.
The Bureau has consistently excused its ineptitude to allow for public access by stating that the National Assembly has not prescribed the terms and conditions to allow for public access, even with the FoIA in place. This action by the Bureau demonstrates that it is institutionally complicit in the plunder of Nigeria’s resources by corrupt public officials.
Right To Know Initiative (R2K), Nigeria has commenced a campaign on the voluntary declaration of assets by public officials who believe in transparency and are willing to publicly declare the content of their asset declaration forms held in the custody of the Code of Conduct. The objective of this campaign is to create a body of good practice, allow for public verification of the assets declared by public officials and promote public accountability.