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SERAP Wants Chief Justice of Nigeria, Other Heads Of Courts To Support Fight Against Corruption

 



  • As Group Fires CCB Over Alleged Obstruction Of Nigerians Who Seek Access To Assets Declaration Forms


By Francis IWUCHUKWU 


The Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Tanko Mohammed, alongside other heads of courts in the country, were last Saturday, charged to encourage all judges to give support to the fight against corruption in Nigeria.


The charge came through a Lagos-based human rights group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, during the presentation of its latest report  titled: “No escape for the corrupt: Lifting the lid on asset declarations in Nigeria”.


The report which was made public in collaboration with the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) at a virtual media event, equally suggested the need for the judiciary to rule against unduly withheld access to asset declaration forms.


The human rights group further argued that 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.


While presenting the report through a professor of law, and president of the Centre for Socio-legal Studies, Prof Yemi Akinseye-George, SAN, the human rights group 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 assets and the persistent reluctance of the custodian of the CCB to publish the records for public scrutiny.”


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 assets declaration cases.


"The CCB should study the assets declaration systems in Argentina, Bhutan, the Philippines and Thailand.


“The AGF as the Chief Law Officer should focus on the verifiability of declared assets, public disclosure and clarification of gifts by inserting guideline provisions as to what is reasonably attributable to gift.”


SERAP also called on the CCB to see Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, and journalists as partners in enthroning transparency and accountability in Nigeria, rather than antagonize their efforts. 


The public presentation which was anchored by the Deputy Director of SERAP, Kolawole Oluwadare, and Maupe Ogun-Yusuf, was attended by media stakeholders including civil society organizations, ministries, agencies and departments (MDAs) and anti-corruption agencies.


All together, 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.


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.

 

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