[dropcap]D[/dropcap]espite the public declaration of their assets, the Code of Conduct Bureau will still verify the claims of President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
A Federal Commissioner of the Bureau, Dr. Ademola Adebo, told our correspondent yesterday that the two leaders’ public declaration of their assets was a demonstration of their commitment to transparency.
He said: “The verification of the assets of the President, his deputy and other public officers is already ongoing. The President and his deputy submitted their assets before the statutory deadline. That is before they took the oath of office. And the vetting started immediately.
“So, in spite of the step they took, we are going ahead with the vetting of their assets.
“The law says we must verify the claims in their assets declaration forms and we will do this in line with statutory requirement.”
Responding to a question, Adebo added: “It is not mandatory for the President and his deputy to declare their assets publicly. It is a voluntary thing. It is not part of the law. They have done so in order to lead by example. This is a commendable decision.
“The law requires that you should declare your assets before taking oath of office. President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo took it a step further to demonstrate their commitment to transparency and accountability.”
A senior official of the CCB, who does not want to be quoted, said: “The public declaration of assets by the President and Vice President has staved off pressure on the Bureau. We had received many queries and even threats to sue the CCB for not releasing the list of assets of Buhari and Osinbajo.
“Now, all those who tried to score cheap points by attacking CCB have no business again.
“If anyone believes they have made wrong claims, it is left for him or her to prove.
“If we have issues with the assets of the President and his deputy, we will write them accordingly.”
Paragraph 12 of part 1 of the Fifth Schedule to 1999 Constitution confers the powers to verify assets on the Bureau. It says the Bureau shall: “Examine the declarations in accordance with the requirements of the Code of Conduct or any law.
“Retain custody of such declarations and make them available for inspection by any citizen of Nigeria on such terms and conditions as the National Assembly may prescribe.
“Ensure compliance with and, where appropriate, enforce the provisions of the Code of Conduct or any law relating thereto.
“Any statement in such declaration that is found to be false by any authority or person authorised in that behalf to verify it shall be deemed to be a breach of this Code.
“Any property or assets acquired by a public officer after any declaration required under this Constitution and which is not fairly attributable to income, gift, or loan approved by this Code shall be deemed to have been acquired in breach of this Code unless the contrary is proved.
“Receive complaints about non-compliance with or breach of the Provisions of the Code of Conduct or any law in relation thereto. Investigate the complaint and, where appropriate, refer such matters to the Code of Conduct Tribunal.”