In a September 2015 article, Forbes claimed that President Muhammadu Buhari had publicly declared his assets.
In 2015, as is the Constitutional requirement, President Muhamadu Buhari made a declaration of his assets to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB). Great news!
However, to enable us accurately provide an answer to the question of whether President Buhari has publicly declared his assets or not, we need to define what a public asset declaration is, and what the law says.
Whilst declaration of assets by public officials is mandatory (see Sections 140; 142(2) of the Constitution of the FRN, and Paragraph 11, Part 1 of the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution of the FRN), a public declaration is voluntary and is not a legal requirement for public officials.
In this particular instance, the Buhari Campaign Organisation lampooned President Jonathan for refusing to make a public asset declaration, and promised Buhari would do so if he won the 2015 elections.
We do have presidential precedent: in 2007 Late President Yar’Adua made public his asset declaration, and public pressure compelled his Vice President at the time, Goodluck Jonathan, to do so soon after. President Yar’Adua and Vice President Jonathan did this by publishing copies of the asset declaration forms they submitted to the CCB.
Since then, a few public officials have also chosen to go beyond the constitutional minimum by declaring their assets publicly. They include:
(2) Prof. Chidi Odinkalu (former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission)
(3) Mr. Waziri Adio (Executive Secretary, Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative)
President Buhari did submit his asset declaration form to the CCB, as confirmed by the bureau, fulfilling the constitutional requirement, but a statement released by the Presidency promised to publish the documents “…as soon as the CCB is through with the [vetting] process”.
The CCB has since completed its asset verification exercise on Buhari, but the Presidency has so far failed to publish the President’s asset declaration form, actually stating that it was President Buhari’s political party, the All Progressives Congress, and not Buhari himself that made the promise to publicly declare his assets. So although President Buhari did submit his asset declaration form to the CCB, and did issue a public summary of his assets, he has not (yet) released copies of his asset declaration form to the public, as promised.
An asset declaration provides information on the net worth of an individual. Despite the summary released by the Presidency, President Buhari’s net worth is still unknown.
Thus, given the benchmark set by President Yar’Adua, and President Buhari’s promise to also release copies of the form he submitted to the CCB, we define a public asset declaration as: the publication of asset declaration documents submitted to the CCB.