By Innocent Anaba
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has dismissed the suit by the Registered Committee of Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, against Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB.
SERAP was seeking an order granting leave to apply for judicial review and to seek an order of mandamus directing and compelling CCB to compile and make available to the applicant, information on the number of asset declarations so far verified by the CCB and the number of those declarations found to be false and deemed to be in breach of the Code of Conduct for public officers by the Bureau and to publish widely including on a dedicated website, any such information.
The applicant also prayed for judicial review and to seek an order of mandamus directing and compelling CCB to immediately take cases of false asset declarations to the Code of Conduct Tribunal for effective prosecution of suspects.
They also want the banning the politicians involved from holding public offices for at least a period of 10 years and seeking refund of stolen public funds as part of the reliefs to be sought before the tribunal.
However, in his judgement, Justice Muslim Hassan declined granting the prayers.
In dismissing the application, the court referred to Section 15(3) of the Constitution, which established Code of Conduct Bureau and it composition; in paragraph 3(a, b & c) of part 1, Third Schedule of the 1999 constitution.
The court held that the provision of paragraph 3(a & c) of the Third Schedule part 1 of 1999 Constitution is very clear and unambiguous.
The court held: “I agree with the respondent that the duty to make the asset declaration form of public officer available for any person or institutions and for whatever purpose is dependent upon terms and conditions to the proscribed the National Assembly.”
The court held that it was the duty of the National Assembly to proscribed the way and conditions for the release of asset declaration for inspection and to achieve this, the National assembly has to pass an act to that effect, which has not be done.
The court further held that the terms and conditions to be prescribed by National Assembly must be specific and related to asset declaration of public officers and not legislation of general nature such as the freedom of information Act, 2011.
“In the light of the above I hold that the instant application is unmeritorious and it is accordingly dismissed,” the court held.