The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari is not under compulsion by any law, to declare his asset since his re-election in February 2019.
Mr Adesina who was on Channels Television Politics Today on Monday confirmed that President Buhari has already declared his assets to the Code of Conduct Bureau.
He questioned 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 declare their assets within 7 days, stating that there is no law compelling the President to declare his assets publicly.
“I can say for a fact that he has done 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.”
The President’s spokesman pressed further to say that if the FoI is invoked in this case, it is left with the CCB to release the information, and it will also take the discretion of President Buhari to declare his assets where necessary.
“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.
“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 stated.
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.