FOI: FG encouraging secrecy – Falana

Constitutional lawyer, Femi Falana has condemned the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) over its refusal to grant a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) on the ground that asset declaration form is private information, describing it as illogical.

In a keynote address titled ‘Involvement of Nigerian People in the Fight Against Corruption’ and delivered at Stakeholders Dialogue on Corruption in Nigeria organised by Action Aid Nigeria, in Kano, the Human rights activist said that the federal government failed to show commitment to the fight against corruption by encouraging secrecy.

“The Federal Government has also failed to show commitment to the fight against corruption by encouraging secrecy with respect to asset declaration by public officers.

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“A few days ago, the CCB turned down the request made by SERAP for the release of copies of the declaration forms of former state governors and Presidents on the grounds that the declaration forms are private documents.”

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) said it is illogical to claim that the asset declaration forms submitted by the erstwhile public officers are private documents, adding that accordingly, the rejection of the request by SERAP is a contravention of section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 and article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.

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“It is hoped that the CCB will review its position and allow citizens to access the information in the declaration forms submitted to it by all public officers in view of the new policy of the Buhari administration to enforce effective asset declaration by public office holders.

“It is an undeniable fact that the progressive withdrawal of subsidies from social services by the State which is a key component of the IMF/World Bank sponsored Structural Adjustment Programme has led to mass poverty in the land,”he added.

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