Declaration of Assets by Public Officers

I know some of you are aware of the drama going on among the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), National Judicial Council (NJC), The President and The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) with regards to declaration of assets, probably why this topic won out of the three. I won’t give you the gist about the drama, I’ll leave that for google but this article will shed light on the subject of it which is Declaration of Assets.

Declaration of assets is, as the name implies, a declaration of the all the assets you own as a person. In this context, it is a statement to the public of the entirety of your possessions of value, home and abroad, and their respective value. In more formal terms, an asset declaration is the statement of a person’s record of their assets and liabilities, from all households, valuables and finances, and all other sources of revenue from investments, contracts, grants, gifts etc.

Now that that’s out of the way, asset declaration, in every country or almost every country of the world, is required of individuals in public office. They are required to declare their assets before they are sworn into office, on expiration of their term of office and sometimes, during the pendency of their term in office, depending on the country. This is done as a check on the public officers, to ensure that there is no embezzlement of funds in their power. When they declare their assets, their finances may be put under investigation to ensure that it is in order and any suspicion or allegation of looting of funds is put to rest. However, where a public official is found wanting, he will be prosecuted.

In Nigeria, all Public Officers whether elected, appointed, recruited, contracted etc are required by Law to declare their assets/liability including that of their spouse(s) who is not a Public Officer and children under 18 years age, and submit same to the Code of Conduct Bureau. They are to declare only those assets/liabilities they actually own at the time of declaration and not the assets/liabilities they are anticipating. Also, all properties/assets acquired outside Nigeria must be stated clearly with the value of such assets in the currency of the country where the property is situated.

It is the requirement of the Law for public officials to declare their assets/liabilities on assumption of office, at the end of his term of Office, at interval of four years for Public Officers on continuous employment of Government whether Federal, State or Local Government and at such other intervals as the Code of Conduct Bureau may determine from time to time according to Paragraph 11 of the 5th Schedule of the Constitution. They are required to provide detailed information like the number, types, address, value of properties declared and the date of acquisition as well as income derivable from the properties where appropriate. All declarations made by the public official are subject to verification by the Officers of the Code of Conduct Bureau authorized for that purpose.  Failure of a public official to declare his/her assets as required under the provisions of Paragraph 11 of the 5th Schedule of the Constitution shall be prosecuted by the Code of Conduct Tribunal and if convicted undergo any or all of the following;

(a) Removal from office,

(b) Disqualification from holding any Public office, (c) forfeiture to the state any property acquired in abuse of office or dishonesty.

At this point, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that where a public officer errs in this regard, you, as a citizen, may petition such public officer by writing to the Code of Conduct Bureau to bring their attention to it. For the bad news, I cannot assure you of how seriously the petition will be taken but let that not discourage you, it’s your right and you should exercise it.

References: For more information, you may refer to you constitution, Code of conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act and Freedom of information Act of you may visit http://ccb.gov.ng/online-assets-declaration/guidelines/ and http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/opinion/2016/09/26/asset-declarations-a-threat-to-privacy-or-a-powerful-anti-corruption-tool

Written by Chinenye V. Mbachu

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