SERAP Presents Report on Corruption • Stresses need to lift lid on asset declarations in Nigeria

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP in collaboration with the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) at the week-end during a virtual media event presented its latest report titled: “No escape for the corrupt: Lifting the lid on asset declarations in Nigeria”, while also stressing the need for the judiciary to rule against unduly withheld access to asset declaration forms.
It said the Code of Conduct Bureau’s obstruction of Nigerians who seek access to the forms was one of the reasons the system has not been able to achieve its goals.
It therefore called on the Chief Justice of Nigeria and other heads of courts to encourage all judges to support the fight against corruption.
The presentation was done by a Professor of public law and president of the Centre for Socio-legal Studies, Prof Yemi Akinseye-George, SAN.
The CSO President identified the reasons why the asset declaration system has not been effective to include “non-compliance by most public officials, lack of transparent follow-up and verification of declared asset and the persistent reluctance of the custodian of the CCB to publish the records for public scrutiny.”
In its recommendations, SERAP said, “Through proactive interpretation, the courts should pronounce against unduly withheld access and progressively entrench the culture of transparency and accountability in governance. The judiciary should also change the often-antagonistic attitude of many judges towards lawyers and litigants in anti-corruption matters and asset declaration cases.”
SERAP also recommended that the CCB should study the asset declaration systems in Argentina, Bhutan, the Philippines and Thailand, while calling on the Attorney General of the Federation to initiate executive bills to correct flaws in the CCB.
It added, “The AGF as the Chief Law Officer should focus on the verifiability of declared asset, public disclosure and clarification of gifts by inserting guideline provisions as to what is reasonably attributable to gift.”
It called on the CCB to see CSOS and journalists as partners in enthroning transparency and accountability in Nigeria rather than antagonize their efforts. The programme, anchored by Maupe Ogun-Yusuf and SERAP’S Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, was attended by media stakeholders including civil society organizations, ministries, agencies and departments (MDAs) and anti-corruption agencies.

In all, the report aims to provide a sound framework for citizens and civil society to engage governments and institutions to ensure transparency and accountability in asset declarations by public officers, and to promote this initiative as an important element of the fight against grand corruption in the country. It will also serve as a tool to encourage the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), public officials and governments at all levels—federal, state and local governments—to promote and ensure transparency and accountability in asset declarations of public officers in Nigeria.

SERAP aims to use the report as an advocacy tool to engage and mobilize the citizens and civil society to ensure transparency and accountability in the asset declarations regime and to reduce corruption and impunity of perpetrators. A copy of the report is attached for your information.

The report, according to SERAP is based on its experiences, and findings from its engagement with government institutions, citizens, civil society organizations, and the media who are at the forefront of promoting transparency and accountability in asset declarations in Nigeria.

It is important to note also that SERAP is a non-profit, nonpartisan, legal and advocacy organization devoted to promoting transparency, accountability and respect for socio-economic rights in Nigeria. SERAP received the Wole Soyinka Anti-Corruption Defender Award in 2014. It was also nominated for the UN Civil Society Award and Ford Foundation’s Jubilee Transparency Award. SERAP serves as one of two Sub-Saharan African civil society representatives on the governing Committee of the UNCAC Coalition, a global anti-corruption network of over 380 civil society organizations (CSOs) in over 100 countries.


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