SERAP urges Buhari declare his assets, recommit to transparency

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President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) to recommit to transparency and show leadership by publicly disclosing his asset declaration at the end of his term in office, and to encourage other members of his administration to do the same.

Additionally, SERAP encouraged him to give immediate instructions to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN) to swiftly, carefully, effectively, and fairly prosecute all open, high-profile corruption matters that are currently being handled by his office.

In his Independence Day speech, Buhari stated, “I have committed to bequeathing a country where all citizens have equal opportunities to achieve their lives.” We have made great strides toward eliminating deeply entrenched corruption that permeates all facets of our national development.”

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In an open letter dated Oc­tober 1, 2022, and signed by SERAP deputy director, Ko­lawole Oluwadare, the organ­isation said: “Contrary to your Independence Day address, grand corruption has contin­ued to deny millions of Nigeri­ans equal opportunities.”

SERAP said, “Promoting transparency and combating corruption and ensuring full and effective respect for the rule of law would send a strong signal of your commitment to leave behind a legacy of trans­parency and accountability.”

“Millions of people are fall­ing into preventable poverty, and live in a continuing state of anxiety and insecurity.”

The letter, continued: “Pro­moting transparency, combat­ing corruption and obeying the rule of law is vital if your administration is not to leave behind a legacy of impunity and an assault against the rule of law.
“We hope that the next few months will show your admin­istration’s commitment to con­sistently uphold transparency and accountability, in order to create a rule of law-friendly environment that would make Nigerians safer.
“There remain longstanding and grave concerns regarding widespread cases of grand cor­ruption involving high-ranking government officials, and sys­temic corruption in ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs), and persistent attacks on the rule of law.

“The reality today is that there is massive corruption at the highest level of govern­ment, and in ministries, de­partments and agencies, with a corrosive impact on Nigerians.

“The indicators of bad gov­ernance and mismanagement of the country’s natural wealth and resources should serve as proof of the need for your government to reinforce and recommit to the fight against corruption.

“Public officials still use po­litical power to enrich them­selves without considering the public good. In several states of the federation and federal ministries, corruption is taking place every day and every hour.

“Corruption continues to directly affect the lives and well-being of millions of Nige­rians across the country and to erode public trust in public institutions and leaders, threat­ening the foundation of our de­mocracy.

“The best measure of a country’s progress toward transparency and accountabili­ty is a total obedience to the rule of law.

“The law ought to command the highest levels of respect by for example, the government immediately obeying orders and judgments of competent courts. No country in which official positions and orders claim a place in people’s minds higher than the law can truly be said to fight corruption.
“SERAP urges you to re­commit to transparency and accountability, and the rule of law, and obey all outstanding court judgments that would improve the ability of your gov­ernment to fulfill your promises to Nigerians.

“Consistent with the prin­ciples of transparency and ac­countability, SERAP also urges you to encourage all presiden­tial candidates to also publicly declare their assets ahead of the 2023 general elections.

“According to our infor­mation, details of about 103 high-profile corruption cases being handled by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commis­sion (EFCC) were reportedly made available in 2017 to the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice upon request.

“Also, the case files of 15 high-profile-corruption suspects are allegedly missing. The miss­ing files are among the 23 cases reportedly sent by the now de­funct Special Presidential Inves­tigation Panel on the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP) in 2019 to Mr. Malami and include some charges of fraud involv­ing some former governors and senators, non-declaration of as­sets and possession of foreign accounts cases.

“The rule of law crisis is il­lustrated by your government’s persistent failure to obey de­cisions of Nigerian courts; failure to consistently combat corruption and push for trans­parency in asset declarations by high-ranking government officials, and the failure to pro­tect Nigerians’ right to life and security.

“There are several judg­ments that your government is yet to obey, including the judg­ment by Justice Hadiza Rabiu Shagari ordering your govern­ment to tell Nigerians about the stolen asset it allegedly recov­ered to date, with details of the amounts recovered.

“Another judgment, by Jus­tice Mohammed Idris (as he then was) ordered your gov­ernment to publish details on the spending of stolen funds recovered since the return of democracy in 1999.

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“The judgment by Justice Chuka Austine Obiozor or­dered your government to publish details of payments of billions of naira to allegedly corrupt electricity contractors and companies since 1999.

“Your government is yet to obey the judgment by Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo. The judgment ordered your govern­ment to challenge the legality of states’ life pension laws and to recover pensions already collected by ex-governors now serving as ministers and mem­bers of the National Assembly.”

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