Following sustained pressure by Nigerians for President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to fulfill several aspects of their campaign promises, especially the public declaration of their assets, as contained in the All Progressives Congress (APC) campaign document, “My Covenant With Nigerians,” the Presidency has come out to give a list of assets said to belong to the President and the Vice President.
Following their assumption of office, the pair had announced that they had declared their assets to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), but had not made the declaration public.
Following this disclosure, Nigerians and organizations pressed President Buhari to fulfill the first of its “covenants,” which is the public declaration of the assets. In the wake of the demand for the public declaration, the presidency said it is left for the CCB to make the declaration public.
This prompted the CCB to issue a statement stating that it could not make the asset declaration public as it not authorised to do so.
The CCB Chairman, Sam Saba, who spoke through his Special Assistant, Gwimi Sebastian Peter, had said: “While the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) and the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act give the bureau powers to receive assets declarations, verify, examine, keep in custody and enforce compliance when there is a breach, the responsibility of determining how and on what terms asset declarations will be made accessible to the public was left to the National Assembly.
“Several National Assemblies have come and gone since the establishment of the CCB without addressing the matter.”
With Nigerians insisting on a public declaration, a civil society group, Stop Impunity Nigeria, an affiliate of the Centre for Social Justice, had on June 1, 2015 applied to the CCB to request copies of the completed assets declaration forms by the President and his deputy.
The application which was signed by a director of Stop Impunity Nigeria, Eze Onyekpere, stated that it was pursuant to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Responding to the application, CCB/HQ/670/G/1/104 dated June 10, 2015 the CCB declined the request, citing the absence of prescribed law by the National Assembly authorizing the release of such information to the public.
The CCB, while stating that section 1(1) 3 and 4 of the FOIA 2011 acknowledges the right of Nigerians to a public declaration, it availed that to “access or request information, whether written or not in written form, in the custody of any public agency” but it also said sections 12(1) (a) (v), 14(1) (b) and 15(1)9a) of the same Act empowered it to decline any request, which it considered an “invasion of personal privacy”.
“Assets declarations by public officers contain such personal information, which falls within the exemptions to the disclosure of information in the FOIA,”
It also stated that to “make assets declarations of public officers available for inspection by any citizen of Nigeria only on terms and conditions prescribed by the National Assembly”.
“However, the terms and conditions under which that can be done have not yet been prescribed by the National Assembly.”
Three months into Buhari’s tenure and only two days away from reaching 100 days in office, a Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu issues a press statement on the subject of Buhari’s asset declaration.
According to the statement, President Muhammadu Buhari, who has held several top government positions – including serving as Military Secretary at the Army Headquarters from 1978 to 1979; Governor of North Eastern State (1975); Federal Commissioner (or Minister) for Petroleum and Natural Resources under former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s militray regime; Military Head of State (183-1985) and Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) in the government of late Dictator, Sani Abacha – has been living an “austere and Spartan lifestyle” and “less than N30 million” to his name and has only bank account, with the Union Bank.
Shehu also availed that although the president owned no foreign account, no enterprises, registered company of oil wells, he had an “undisclosed” amount of shares in Berger paints, Union and Skye Banks.
In addition, the president is said to own 5 homes and two mud houses: two in Kaduna, one in Daura and another in Abuja, while the mud houses were inherited from his late sister and late father. other properties owned by President Buhari are two undeveloped properties, one in Kano and another in Port Harcourt – whose location he is yet to “trace”.
Shehu also disclosed that President Buhari borrowed money from the old Barclays Bank to build two of his homes.
Shehu further revealed that “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 statement goes on to reveal that the president “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.”
It is worthwhile to note that the monetary value of the aforementioned assets were not disclosed, neither are the locations of the properties nor their nature of the “homes” (flats, bungalows or duplexes) which might give a mental picture of the monetary equivalent.
As regards Vice President Osinbajo (SAN), who is a wealthy lawyer and a former Attorney-General of Lagos State in the administration of former Lagos State Governor and National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, Garba Shehu posited that he has a “bank balance of about N94 million and 900,000 United States Dollars in his bank”
He also said that Osinbajo owns a “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.”
Osinbajo, who also pastors a parish of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in Ikoyi, Lagos is said to own a law firm, SimmonsCooper, and holds shares in six private companies namely: Octogenerium Ltd., Windsor Grant Ltd., Tarapolsa, Vistorion Ltd., Aviva Ltd. and MTN Nigeria.
The Vice President is also said to owne one Infinity 4-Wheel Drive SUV, one Mercedes Benz and a Prado Jeep.
Shehu concluded by saying that “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.”
Again, no monetary equivalent was attached to any of the assets.
See a full text of Shehu’s statement below:
“Documents submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), show that the retired General has indeed been living an austere and Spartan lifestyle, contrary to what many might expect of a former Head of State of Nigeria and one who has held a number of top government positions, such as governor, Minister of petroleum and the head of the Petroleum Development Trust Fund (PTDF).
“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 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.
“President Buhari declared however that he had shares in Berger Paints, Union Bank and Skye Bank.
“This is entirely unlike what one might expect from a former head of state of a country like Nigeria.
“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.
“As revealed by the same forms, highlights of the 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.
“According to details shown on the form, the Vice-President has about ninety four million naira, nine hundred thousand US dollars and nineteen thousand pounds in Nigerian Banks with the foreign currencies kept in local domiciliary accounts. 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.”
Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media and Publicity)