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Emulate Ex-President Yar’Adua Who Consistently Declared Assets, Not Buhari, SERAP Tells Tinubu

May 28, 2023


The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the ‘President-elect’ Senator Bola Tinubu to make public details of his “assets, income, investments, liabilities and interests”.


It also urged Tinubu to encourage the ‘Vice president-elect’, Kashim Shettima to do the same.


SERAP also urged him to "immediately prioritise the full and effective respect for human rights, media freedom, the rule of law and the country's judiciary including by promptly obeying countless court judgments which the government of President Muhammadu Buhari has repeatedly treated with utter contempt and disdain."


In the open letter dated May 27, 2023, and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: "SERAP notes your recent promise to ‘kill corruption'. However, this rhetoric is nothing new: the outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari used similar hollow anticorruption phrase in 2015."


SERAP said, "As Nigerians have witnessed for eight years, Buhari has neither 'killed corruption' nor obeyed court judgments on transparency and accountability.


"Widely publishing details of your assets, income, investments and liabilities and encouraging your Vice-President-Elect and others to do the same would allow Nigerians to know your worth and the worth of other public officials.


"If your election is upheld by the judiciary, your government can use transparency in asset declarations as a means of promoting public accountability and ending systemic corruption in the country."


The letter reads in part, "Buhari's broken promises to make specific details of his assets public and to 'kill corruption' have opened up the country's political and electoral processes to a money free-for-all, discouraged political participation and contributed to impunity for corruption.


"Although President Buhari's march to Aso Rock was predicated, in large part, on his campaign rhetoric to 'kill corruption', corruption remains widespread among high-ranking public officials and in ministries, departments and agencies [MDAs]."


"Disclosure of income, assets and conflicts of interest can serve as powerful tools to draw attention to the abuse of public office, help prosecute corrupt offenders and create a culture of scrutiny in the public sector that deters corruption," it adds.


SERAP noted that under Buhari’s administration, the “country has witnessed a general concentration of wealth in the hands of a few politicians and elites perceived to be enriching themselves at the expense of the general public."


It described Buhari’s administration as notorious for disobeying court orders, saying it “turned the idea of the rule of law and judicial independence on its head by persistently disobeying court judgments including those ordering him to stop life pensions for former governors, and to pay journalist Agba Jalingo N30 million as damages for violations of his human rights."


"The Buhari administration has also refused to obey the judgments by Justice Hadiza Rabiu Shagari ordering his government to tell Nigerians about the stolen asset it allegedly recovered, with details of the amounts recovered; and by Justice Mohammed Idris, ordering his government to publish details on the spending of stolen funds recovered by successive governments since 1999."


"SERAP urges you to emulate the late former President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua who consistently published his asset declaration forms as president and governor of Katsina State. He also planned legislative reform to make it mandatory for all public officers to declare their assets publicly. He believed that publishing his assets would put pressure on other public officers to do so," it adds.