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October 21, 2011
African Centre for Media & Information Literacy takes Code of Conduct Bureau to court over President Goodluck Jonathan's Asset Declaration
The African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL) has dragged the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) to court over the asset declaration of President Goodluck Jonathan. In a suit (No FHC/ABJ/CS/877/2011) filed today (October 21, 2011) at the Federal High Court, Abuja, on behalf of AFRICMIL by Ashimole Felix of Che Oyintumba & Associates, AFRICMIL is seeking an order of mandamus compelling the CCB to comply with its request of making available to the public the asset declaration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
On July 28, 2011, AFRICMIL sent a Freedom of Information request to the CCB asking “to be allowed to inspect and obtain copies of the 2007 asset declaration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan; the asset declaration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan after the end of his tenure on May 28, 2011; and the current asset declaration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan when he assumed office on May 29, 2011”.
According to Mr. Lewis Asubiojo, Director of Programmes AFRICMIL, the organization was concerned that even with the memo from the presidency that government agencies should subject themselves to the Freedom of Information Act, the CCB refused to act on its request. Mr. Asubiojo noted that for a government that has proclaimed a transformation agenda and wants to fight corruption, it is important that President Jonathan leads by example, and one way he can do that is to make public his asset declaration.
Paragraph 3, Part I of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, provides that the Code of Conduct Bureau shall have power to: (a) receive declarations by public officers made under paragraph 12 of Part I of the Fifth Schedule to this Constitution; (b) examine the declarations in accordance with the requirements of the Code of Conduct or any law; (c) retain custody of such declarations and make them available for inspection by any citizen of Nigeria on such terms and conditions as the National Assembly may prescribe.
Paragraph 11 of Part I of the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution provides that: (1) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, every public officer shall within three months after the coming into force of this Code of Conduct or immediately after taking office and thereafter -- (a) at the end of every four years; and (b) at the end of his term of office, submit to the Code of Conduct Bureau a written declaration of all his properties, assets, and liabilities and those of his unmarried children under the age of eighteen years.
Pursuant to the aforementioned constitutional provisions and section 2 of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, which states that “Notwithstanding anything contained in any other Act, Law or Regulation, the right of any person to access or request information, whether or not contained in any written form, which is in the custody or possession of any public official, agency or institution howsoever described, is hereby established”, AFRICMIL made the request to the CCB to be allowed to inspect and obtain copies of President Goodluck Jonathan’s asset declaration.
Coordinator, African Centre for Media & Information Literacy