7 August 2015
President Muhammadu Buhari and his deputy, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, have been dragged before a Federal High Court in Lagos for failing to keep to their promise to Nigerians during the electioneering on the public declaration of their assets.
A lawyer and rights activist, Kabir Akingbolu, who initiated the suit, is contending that by declaring their assets secretly, Buhari and Osinbajo have violated Section 172 and Section 11 (1) and (2) of the Code of Conduct for public officers under the fifth schedule of the 1999 Constitution.
Apart from Buhari and Osinbajo, other defendants in the suit are the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).
Buhari and Osinbajo had declared their assets to the CCB secretly, a development which drew public condemnation, with many insisting that it was a sharp departure from the anti-corruption posture of the president and his deputy.
Akingbolu, who formulated three questions for the court’s determination, is seeking an order declaring that it was mandatory for the CCB to publicly publish the assets of Buhari and Osinbajo.
He is also seeking a declaration that the secret declaration of assets by Buhari and Osinbajo was unconstitutional, and an order mandating them to publicly declare their assets in line with the Code of Conduct for public officers under the fifth schedule to the constitution.
Akingbolu, in an affidavit in support of the suit, recalled that Buhari and Osinbajo made it abundantly clear while canvassing for votes from Nigerians that they would publicly declare their assets in order to prove that they would run a transparent government.
He averred that under the code of conduct, the president and the vice-president were duty bound as public officers to declare their assets publicly, and that the duo had breached the said requirement by not publicly declaring their assets as dictated and mandated by the constitution.
Most galling, according to the lawyer, was that the CCB “has been shielding Buhari and Osinbajo by not publicising their purported declaration of assets in line with the law”.
The lawyer argued further that the conspiracy by Buhari, Osinbajo and CCB to deprive Nigerians of knowing the assets purportedly declared by them was clearly against the constitution.
“I know as a fact as a legal practitioner that Buhari and Osinbajo are duty bound to declare their assets publicly and it will be in the interest of justice, public peace and good governance to grant the reliefs in this suit,” he averred.
The suit is yet to be assigned to a judge and no date has been fixed for hearing.