President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo have not commenced the process of having the Code of Conduct Bureau verify details of their declared assets, ahead of making them public, the head of the bureau has said.
Sam Saba, chairman of the code of conduct office, said the bureau was prepared to commence the verification of assets declared by the president and vice president, but said CCB was awaiting a convenient time for the two leaders to carry out the exercise.
The bureau said none of two steps used for verifying assets has been implemented in the case of Messrs. Buhari and Osinbajo, nearly three months since they took office.
“Both the conference and the field verification exercises are pending,” Mr. Saba said in an interview with the Punch, published Sunday.
He said a conference verification involves the examination of the particulars of an asset, while field verification requires physical validation of the listed property.
“For instance, if you say you have three vehicles, let us see the registration numbers. We don’t have to see all the details. Once we are able to see the receipt of the purchase of the vehicle or the registration documents, we are satisfied,” Mr. Saba said. “But we still have to see it physically and that is the second stage which we call field verification.”
The Constitution does not compel office holders to declare their assets publicly, but amid an increasing scale of corruption, more Nigerians have intensified calls for asset details of senior government officials to be made open as an important step in combating graft.
Messrs Buhari and Osinbajo’s election campaign centred on rooting out corruption, and the two leaders pledged to voluntarily declare their assets on assumption of office.
The ruling All Progressives Congress (opposition before the elections) also assured that its president – unlike former Peoples Democratic Party presidents, Goodluck Jonathan and Olusegun Obasanjo – would declare his assets. Umaru Yar’adua, also a PDP president, declared his assets promptly on taking office in 2007.
In June, PREMIUM TIMES reported how President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo ignored a recommendation of the Ahmed Joda transition committee that they declare their assets publicly as they took office.
The committee suggested that a public declaration of assets would be a “quick win” for the administration.
Reacting to growing calls for the president to fulfil his election pledge, his spokesperson, Garba Shehu, on June 6, assured that Mr. Buhari would make the report of his asset declaration public soon after verification by the Code of Conduct Bureau.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has said that in fulfilment of one of their campaign promises, his declared assets and those of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo will be released to the public upon the completion of their verification by the Code of Conduct Bureau,” Mr. Shehu said.
He added: “There is no question at all that the President and the Vice President are committed to public declaration of their assets within the 100 days that they pledged during the presidential campaign”.
The 100-day period since the new administration came to power lapses in September.
The chairman of the Code of Conduct bureau, Mr. Saba, told Punch that the first step of the verification will commence once “it is convenient for Mr. President and his vice for us to go and do it”.