Sani to Buhari: Prove you’re not corrupt, publish your assets

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo )left) and President Muhammadu Buhari ... in August
Senator Shehu Sani

Activist Senator, Shehu Sani, has challenged all public officers, “past or present who is not corrupt” to publicly declare their assets.

Although they are not directly named by Sani, President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo are believed to be the prime target of the challenge.

Using the symbols of the umbrella and the broom, Senator Sani, of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), in a Facebook post on Thursday evening argued against secret asset declaration. He also argued that failure to do that is an indication that there is not difference between the APC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from which power was wrested in 2015 on account of running an opaque government.

Umbrella is the symbol of the PDP, while that of the APC is a broom.

He wrote: “Any public officer past or present who is not corrupt or lay (sic) claim to political sainthood should publicly declare his assets or instruct the code of conduct bureau to make public what he or she wrote secretly.”

Sani added: “Being under an umbrella does not make you a shadow sinner and riding a broom does not make you a sweeping saint.”

About four months after they took office, with their major campaign pledge being to publish their assets, both Buhari and Osinbajo were on September 3, 2015 reported to have declared their assets with the Code of Conduct Bureau.

A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, which made the announcement, also gave broad outlines of the assets, with a pledge that the Conduct Bureau would release the details “soon.”

To date, the Bureau has not released the details.

Shehu had said: “The documents submitted to the CCB, which officials say are still being vetted and will soon be made public, show that prior to being sworn in on May 29, President Buhari had less than N30 million to his name. He also had only one bank account, with the Union Bank. President Buhari had no foreign account, no factory and no enterprises. He also had no registered company and no oil wells.”

The statement added: “The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), who had been a successful lawyer before his foray into politics declared a bank balance of about N94 million and 900,000 United States Dollars in his bank accounts”.

It added that President Buhari “had shares in Berger Paints, Union Bank and Skye Bank”. The documents also revealed that “President Buhari had a total of five homes, and two mud houses in Daura. He had two homes in Kaduna, one each in Kano, Daura and in Abuja. One of the mud houses in Daura was inherited from his late older sister, another from his late father. He borrowed money from the old Barclays Bank to build two of his homes. “President Buhari also has two undeveloped plots of land, one in Kano and the other in Port Harcourt. He is still trying to trace the location of the Port Harcourt land.

“In addition to the homes in Daura, he has farms, an orchard and a ranch. The total number of his holdings in the farm include 270 heads of cattle, 25 sheep, five horses, a variety of birds and a number of economic trees”.

The documents also showed that the retired General “uses a number of cars, two of which he bought from his savings and the others supplied to him by the federal government in his capacity as former Head of State. The rest were donated to him by well-wishers after his jeep was damaged in a Boko Haram bomb attack on his convoy in July 2014.

The same forms, according to Mr Shehu, notes that ” Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo’s asset declaration include his 4-bedroom residence at Victoria Garden City, Lagos and a 3-bedroom flat at 2 Mosley Road, Ikoyi. The Vice President also has a 2-bedroom flat at the popular Redemption Camp along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and a 2-bedroom mortgaged property in Bedford, England. Aside from these, the Vice President has no other landed properties on the form.

“Apart from his law firm, known as SimmonsCooper, the Vice-President also declared shareholding in six private companies based in Lagos, including Octogenerium Ltd., Windsor Grant Ltd., Tarapolsa, Vistorion Ltd., Aviva Ltd. and MTN Nigeria.

“His personal vehicles are one Infinity 4-Wheel Drive SUV, one Mercedes Benz and a Prado Jeep.

“As soon as the CCB is through with the process, the documents will be released to the Nigerian public and people can see for themselves,” Shehu said.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP had refused to make his assets public, on the argument that the law only requires public officers to file the details with the CCB. Speaking at a Presidential Media chat, Jonathan had added that he made his assets public as Vice President at the prompting of his then principal, the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.

Then Presidential aspirant Buhari and his party, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) had led the campaign to berate Jonathan for refusing to make public the assets declared.

A statement by the defunct CPC’s National Publicity Secretary, Rotimi Fashakin,  said it noted “with dismay” Jonathan’s statement that he was not bothered about not declaring his assets.

The CPC noted that the Fifth schedule Part 1, 11(1) of the 2010 Constitution (as amended) states thus:

“ Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, every public officer shall within three months after the coming into force of this Code of Conduct or immediately after taking office and thereafter –

(a) at the end of every four years; and

(b) at the end of his term of office, submit to the Code of Conduct Bureau a written declaration of all his properties, assets, and liabilities and those of his unmarried children under the age of eighteen years.”

According Buhari’s party, there is a clear mandate on the president to make his assets public to Nigerians, warning that Jonathan’s continued refusal to declare his assets would mean that that administration supports corruption in the country.

The CPC expressed grave concern that Jonathan, as Vice President, was forced to declare his assets against his desire.

The party described the then President as an unprincipled person who otherwise ought to have resigned his appointment if he was forced to act against his desire.

The then opposition party stated:  “What is unmistakably clear is that the President’s demeanour on this issue of asset declaration leaves many unanswered questions: Is the President of the nation now selecting which provision(s) of the Constitution he will comply with when, in fact, he swore to defend the law of the land?

“Is the President’s unwillingness to declare his assets, more than four years after he did so in 2007, not frustrating efforts to rationally assess the net increase of his assets since commencement of his service at the nation’s presidency?

“Should the President still be trusted in championing the fight against corruption and lack of probity in public office? Is the President above the law of the land?”

Shehu’s pledge that the CCB would soon make details of Buhari’s assets public, was over two years ago.

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