The Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos has granted leave to the HEDA Resource Centre, a non-governmental organization concerned with human rights and good governance related issues, to bring an application to compel the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), to release its investigation report on those indicted in the Panama Papers scandal.
In 2016, investigations into the Panama Papers by International Consortium of Journalists revealed that the current Senate President, Mr. Bukola Saraki, former Senate President, Mr. David Mark, and other prominent Nigerians illegally operated secret companies in a tax haven.
The media uproar that followed the scandal forced the presidency to order the investigation of public officials indicted in the papers.
This was confirmed by the then CCB chairman, Mr. Sam Saba, who said the bureau has received a directive from the presidency to investigate public officials enmeshed in the offshore malpractice.
According to the court papers, HEDA requested for a report of the investigation conducted by CCB in November 2017 but got no response.
Consequently, the organization approached the Federal High Court in Lagos through their counsel, Mr. Inibehe Effiong, to seek an order of Mandamus directing the bureau to give comprehensive information on its investigation into assets and secret companies owned and kept in tax haven by Mr. Saraki and others exposed in the Panama Papers.
HEDA is seeking the reliefs in pursuant to section 15(5) of the Nigerian constitution and section 2, 4, and 31 of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act which repose in the organization the obligation to contribute to the eradication of corrupt practices and abuse of power.
It also claimed that the refusal of CCB to furnish HEDA with the required information is offensive to the rule of law.
“It is in the overall public interest for the respondent to diligently investigate and publicize the outcome of its investigation into allegations of acquisition and ownership of assets abroad by past and present officials like the one exposed in the Panama Papers." HEDA wrote in its written address.
After granting leave to HEDA to seek an order of mandamus, the presiding judge, Justice Olayinka Faji, adjourned the case to January 25, 2018 for hearing of the substantive application for judicial review.