Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, has come out, forcefully to declare that President Muhammadu Buhari is not compelled by any law, to declare his asset openly.
Adesina made the statement while reacting to the Freedom of Information requests sent by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) to the Presidency, asking that President Buhari, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and 36 state governors and their deputies should put in the public domain their declared assets within seven days.
Mr Adesina, however, confirmed that President Buhari has already declared his assets to the Code of Conduct Bureau.
“I can say for a fact that he has done so because I am privy to it; and SERAP asking the president to declare publicly, on the basis of what law? The president will do what the law requires of him and what the law requires is that he should declare his asset which he has done. Declaring publicly is not in our laws; it can only be a voluntary thing.”
“If the FoI act is invoked, it will be left with the Code of Conduct Bureau to release because the FoI act will not be for the president, the president has declared and it’s already deposited with the code of conduct, so it’s for them to respond if it is invoked,” Adeshina added.
“In 2015, they elected to make it public, if they want to make it public this time, they will do. Has the asset been declared? Yes, it has. If the president says they should release, it will be released, but there is no law that compels him to do it and we should obey the law,” he told Channels TV.
In SERAP’s request, dated 3 January 2020 and signed by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation stated that “The Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the FoI Act, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which is part of our laws, read together, impose transparency obligations on all public officials to publicly disclose information concerning their asset declarations submitted to the CCB, and to clarify any updated review of such assets.”
The organisation added that the non-public disclosure by public officials of their summary of assets seriously undermines the effectiveness and integrity of the constitutional and statutory obligations to submit asset declarations.