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Declare assets before leaving office – SERAP tells Buhari, others

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SOCIO-ECONOMIC Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to recommit to transparency and demonstrate leadership by publicly committing to publish his asset declaration at the end of his tenure of office as well as encourage other cabinet members to do the same.

  SERAP also urged Buhari to direct the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, to take immediate steps to expeditiously, diligently, effectively and fairly prosecute all outstanding high-profile corruption cases currently being handled by his office.

  But in an open letter dated October 1, 2022, by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organizsation said: “Contrary to your Independence Day address, grand corruption has continued to deny millions of Nigerians equal opportunities.”

  SERAP maintained that “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.”

  According to SERAP, “millions of people are falling into preventable poverty, and live in a continuing state of anxiety and insecurity.”

  The letter, read in part: “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.”

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  “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.

  “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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