Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBCF) on Friday challenged the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) to explain how the asset declaration form of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen got to the hands of the man who wrote a petition against him.
The petition against Justice Onnoghen was written by the Executive Director, Anti-corruption and Research Based Dada Initiative, Mr Dennis Aghanya, who is said to be an ex-media aide of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’s position was in reaction to a 2015 letter from the Conduct Bureau to a request for the asset forms of President Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, in which the bureau explained why it would not release asset declaration forms to anyone apart from the declarant.
In the letter addressed to an Ebute-Metta, Lagos office of a legal practitioner, the CCB, while refusing to release the asset declaration forms of the president and his deputy said granting the requests would constitute an “invasion of personal privacy.”
It said asset declaration by public officers contain such personal information which falls within the exceptions to the disclosure of information in the Freedom of Information Act.
Besides, the CCB, in the letter reference number CCB/HQ/670/G/1/120 dated 25 August, 2015 said the 1999 consitution “provides that the Code of Conduct Bureau shall make assets declarations of public officers available for inspection by any citizen of Nigeria only on such terms and conditions prescribed by the National Assembly. However, the terms and conditions under which that can be done is yet to be prescribed by the National Assembly. In view of the aforementioned, the Bureau hereby declines your request.”
The Southern and Middle Belt leaders in a statement to Saturday Tribune on Friday by its spokesman, Mr Yinka Odumakin challenged the Code of Conduct Bureau to explain how the CJN’s asset declaration form got into the hand of a third party.
“It is intriguing that the CCB that issued this response to s citizen’s inquiry would now accept a petition that contradicted its stated position. If the petitioner against the CJN did not obtain the document from them (CCB), was it that the petitioner stole their document and they accepted it from him? Or the National Assembly has now made a law under which it was released to him?
“This is what you get when a society is run on whims and caprices. A government under which there was no law to make the assets declarations of the President and VP available now suddenly has a “law” under which the assets declaration of the CJN can be made available to a private citizen whose only privilege was being a former aide of the President.
“A society cannot make any progress with Animal Farm mentality where all animals are equal with some more equal than others. All you will have is dysfunctionality!” the leaders said.
When Saturday Tribune called the spokesperson of the Code of Conduct Bureau, Mrs Florence Ekeh to explain why the bureau refused the 2015 request but granted that of Aghanya in 2019, she said she was bereaved and presently not in Abuja to respond adequately on the issue.Read Full Story