Code of Conduct Bureau yet to examine Jonathan’s asset form

Former President Goodluck Jonathan

It has been 29 months since Mr. Jonathan became Nigeria’s president, yet CCB has not inspected his Declaration of assets document.

About 17 months after President Goodluck Jonathan secretly submitted his asset declaration form to the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, as stated by the constitution, the Bureau is yet to review the president’s declaration.

Mr. Jonathan like all public officials are expected to fill and submit asset declaration forms to the Bureau at the commencement and ending of their terms in office.

Despite declaring his asset as Vice President, and earlier as Deputy Governor and Governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. Jonathan, as required by law, had stated that he declared his asset and submitted it to the Bureau upon being sworn in as President, on May 29, 2011.

However, a year and half after Mr. Jonathan submitted the asset; the Bureau is yet to review the submission.

This was disclosed by the Bureau’s chairman, Sam Saba, at a Compliance Training Workshop for Public officers on Wednesday in Abuja.

Mr. Saba, represented by an official of the Bureau, Abdullahi Dikko, said “as far as we are concerned, President has declared his assets, though not publicly. There is no law that says that you should declare your assets publicly.”

While stating that the Bureau had not reviewed Mr. Jonathan’s declaration, Mr. Saba stated that “when we go through his form and we discover any area that is questionable, then we will take him to court.”

The controversial asset

Mr. Jonathan’s asset declaration had become an issue of public debate after the Bureau refused to release copies of the declared asset to the public; despite Freedom of Information, FOI, requests to that effect.

The President also refused to publicly declare his asset despite huge public demand for him to do so.

In a live televised interview, Mr. Jonathan said he did not “give a damn” about public asset declaration.

“The issue of public asset declaration is a matter of personal principle. That is the way I see it, and I don’t give a damn about it, even if you criticise me from heaven,” Mr. Jonathan said in June during the interview.

Mr. Jonathan said he was pressured by late President Umaru Yar’Adua to publicly declare his asset, when he (Mr. Jonathan) was Vice President.

At least three civil society groups, citing the FOI law, have approached the CCB, asking for copies of Mr. Jonathan’s asset declaration.

All the requests have been refused by the Bureau and have been taken to court by the applicants.

The CCB is constitutionally bound to receive declarations by public officials and examine the declarations to ensure that the public officials do not engage in corrupt activities. The Bureau, seen by many observers as weak and ineffective, has in the past alleged that some public officials doctor their asset declaration forms, with some filling in non-existent asset with the expectation that they would own those asset while in office.

It is not certain when the Bureau will review the president’s asset declaration or if has indeed done so in the past before May 29, 2011.

The training

At its workshop on Wednesday, the Bureau’s chairman said the aim of the training is to sensitise public officers on the importance of assets declaration and what is required of them while filling the form.

“If they know what they are being asked and how to answer correctly, it will lessen our work and reduce the burden of taking people to court for non-compliance,” he said.

Mr. Saba preached against corruption saying that it is the collective responsibility of all patriotic Nigerians to fight against corruption.

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