The Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) states that the asset declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari and other previous leaders remains a private document.
The CCB stated that it could not disclose the details without their consent.
The Office noted that the activity declaration forms are special documents that were exempted from section 14 of the Freedom of Information Act.
The CCB has revealed its position to a written address presented in response to a motion of the Socio-economic Rights and Responsibility Project (SERAP).
It will be remembered that the court had granted SERAP authorization to submit an order request to force the CCB to issue the asset declaration forms of current and previous public office holders.
But in his October 14 reply, the office stated that SERAP could not establish that it is in the public interest to disclose information.
“The asset declaration forms of the Presidents, Vice-Presidents, Senate President, Speakers of the House of Representatives, State Governors and Deputy Governors since the return of democracy in 1999 to 2019 are in the custody of the CCB. But the public officials have not consented to the disclosure of their asset declarations forms. The CCB is not obligated to submit assets declaration forms to any person,” the bureau said.
“The forms are not publicly available. SERAP has not shown that it is in the public interest to disclose the information nor that such public interest overweighs the protection of the privacy of the Presidents, Vice Presidents, Senate Presidents, Speakers of the House of Representatives, State Governors and Deputy Governors since 1999 to 2019.
“Asset declaration forms contain personal information about President and Ministers contain personal information about them and their properties, assets and liabilities and those of their wives/husbands and their children who are under the age of 18 years.
“The power of the CCB to refer suspects to the Code of Conduct Tribunal is discretionary and the courts are circumspect in granting mandamus in respect of discretionary powers and in the circumstances of the case SERAP has an alternative and effective legal remedy. This renders SERAP’s case incompetent.
“SERAP ought to have asked the CCB to investigate allegations of non-compliance with the Code of Conduct and where appropriate refer the matter to the Tribunal for prosecution.
“Asset declaration forms are special documents that have been exempted by section 14 of the Freedom of Information Act. CCB can only make the forms available on the terms and conditions to be prescribed by the National Assembly. Those terms and conditions are yet to be prescribed.”