Following the Code of Conduct Tribunal’s (CCT) judgment on the embattled Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen’s asset declaration case, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has demanded that the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) make public, asset declaration submitted to the bureau by successive presidents and governors from 1999 to 2019.
Onnoghen was on Thursday found guilty of false declaration of assets in breach of the provisions of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) for public officials by the CCT.
The Tribunal removed him from the office as Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of National Judicial Council (NJC) and also banned him from taking any public office until a period of ten years.
However, SERAP, standing on the provisions of the FoI act, 2011, SERAP said it would take appropriate legal action against CCB if it fails to provide the information within 14 days.
Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP’s deputy director, the civil society organisation, in a freedom of information (FoI) request asked the CCB to urgently provide information on asset declaration submitted by the public officials.
The letter read: “While we welcome the judgment by the Code of Conduct Tribunal on Justice Walter Onnoghen, we now urge the CCB to extent its mandates to enforce constitutional provisions on asset declarations by public officers to cover elected officers and to vigorously pursue the prosecution of any such officers who use their powers either as presidents or state governors over public funds to enrich themselves.
“While judicial corruption is bad, the level of corruption involving many politicians since 1999 and the entrenched culture of impunity of perpetrators is equally appalling. Publishing the asset declarations of elected public officers since the return of democracy in 1999 to date would improve public trust in the ability of the Bureau to effectively discharge its mandates. This would in turn put pressure on public officers like presidents and state governors to make voluntary public declaration of their assets.
“SERAP is concerned that many politicians hide behind the fact that members of the public do not have access to their asset declarations to make false declarations, and to cover up assets illegally acquired in corruption or abuse of office. The CCB can use the opportunity presented by the Onnoghen judgment to increase the accountability of politicians through the asset declaration provisions if it is not to be accused of witch-hunting the judiciary.”