SERAP tells Buhari to declare assets before leaving office

BY BRIGHT JACOB

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to republish details of his assets at the end of his tenure in the office next year.

SERAP said by the action, the President will “recommit to transparency, and demonstrate leadership”, adding that it will encourage other members of his administration to do the same.

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

Buhari had stated in his Independence Day address that he had “promised to bequeath a country where all citizens have equal opportunities to achieve their lives”.

“We have made significant progress in the eradication of deeply entrenched corruption that permeates all facets of our national development,” he had added.

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

SERAP said, “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.”

It added that “millions of people are falling into preventable poverty, and live in a continuing state of anxiety and insecurity.”

The letter reads in part: “Promoting transparency, combating corruption and obeying the rule of law is vital if your administration is not to leave behind a legacy of impunity and an assault against the rule of law.

“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.

“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.

“Public officials still use political power to enrich themselves without considering the public good. In several states of the federation, and federal ministries, corruption is taking place every day and every hour.”

“Corruption continues to directly affect the lives and well-being of millions of Nigerians across the country, and to erode public trust in public institutions and leaders, threatening the foundation of our democracy.

“The best measure of a country’s progress toward transparency and accountability is a total obedience to the rule of law.”
The group urged Buhari to immediately obey “orders and judgments of competent courts.”