The Code of Conduct Office (CCB) has revealed that President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, and other officials preparing to leave office are not required to make their assets public.
A senior CCB official, Veronica Kato, in a conversation with Punch, said that the CCB Act does not require reporting, but officials can voluntarily disclose it voluntarily.
According to Kato, the Bureau can only provide public asset declaration documents by order of the court in cases where a public official is being investigated or tried for alleged corruption related to acquired assets.
“It is not possible to make the assets declared to the CCB by these public officials public. There is a law guiding the CCB and that law does not allow us to do so. This is due to the conditions upon which the assets declaration is constituted according to the guidelines.
“The assets declaration form is to be given to the public officials on terms and conditions as prescribed by the National Assembly, and those terms and conditions, up till now, do not permit us to make it available to the public. Besides, it is a private document and it’s confidential.
“It’s a different case where there’s a petition or something of that sort demanding that a particular official’s declared assets should be made available for investigation purposes.
“If a public official decides on their own volition to make it public, such a person will do that. We have been established for over 25 years and we don’t make declared assets’ details public because we don’t have the power to do that.
“For example, when the incumbent President and his deputy came into office, they decided to declare their assets publicly. That was their decision. They are also the only ones that can decide to make the assets public as they are leaving.
“Our duty is to ensure that public officials declare their assets to the CCB; we take custody of the asset declaration forms and we verify those assets, and when we see red flags, we investigate and prosecute them if we find contravention against the code of conduct rule. Those are our primary functions.”
However, Kato said the general public can provide evidence in cases where they think public officials have acquired more properties before getting into office.
“And the citizen can provide evidence to prove that such assets were acquired with illicit funds and through the abuse of their office, the citizen can write a petition to the CCB and we will investigate and compare what they declared with what they now have.
“If we can establish beyond reasonable doubt that these things were acquired illicitly, then we go to court.”