DID former President Olusegun Obasanjo comply with the Code of Conduct for Public Officers which makes it mandatory for them to declare their assets on assumption of office and at the expiration of their term or tenure?
Officials of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) are not willing to comment. But the records reveal that Obasanjo did not declare his assets on assumption of office in 1999.
Besides, it, remains a mystery how much the former president is worth.
In the assets declaration register of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) that keeps records of when each public officer collected a form, took the oath and returned it (the form) to the Bureau, the column for Chief Obasanjo is blank.
The register states that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar collected the assets declaration form on May 25, 1999; swore on May 28 and submitted the form to the CCB on June 1, 1999.
The late Chief Bola Ige, then Minister of Power and Steel is recorded to have collected a form on June 29, 1999, swore on June 30 and returned it (the form) same day.
Other notable members of the Obasanjo cabinet whose names appear on the register and are certified to have declared their assets in 1999 include Lt-General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, then Minister of Defence, Lt-General Aliyu Muhammed Gusau (rtd), National Security Adviser, Alhaji Sule Lamido, Foreign Affairs Minister, Chief Ufot Joseph Ekaette, Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Daniel O. Chuke, Minister of Special Projects.
The fifth schedule of the 1999 Constitution stipulates that every public officer shall immediately after taking oath of office submit to the CCB a written declaration of all his properties, assets and liabilities and those of his unmarried children under the age of 18 years. It is also mandatory for every public officer to declare his assets at the end of every four years and at the end of his term of office.
Although the register states that Chief Obasanjo declared his assets in 2003, there are discrepancies in the record. He was said to have picked the declaration form on September 15, 2003, swore on May 23, 2003 and returned the form on October 14, 2003. He swore to the form four months ahead of the collection date. The declaration form was submitted by Mr. Bodunde Adeyanju, one of his special assistants.
“I believe he declared his assets, but the records are secret,” a source said.
Atiku who was harassed by the Code of Conduct Tribunal in the build-up to the 2007 general elections, declared his assets in 2003, the register states. He collected a form for the first declaration on April 15, 2003; swore on May 27 and submitted (the form) to the CBB same day. He picked another form for the second exercise on May 27, 2003; swore on June 6, and returned it same day.
Frantic efforts made by The Nation to clarify the issues on Obasanjo’s assets declaration with the CCB met a brickwall. CCB’s Executive Secretary Mr. Sam Saba refused to entertain questions.
The bureau’s spokeswoman Iyabo Akinwale said she was not competent to answer questions on the former president’s assets.
However, she disclosed that 1,126 cases were pending before the Code of Conduct Tribunal involving council chairmen, councillors and former governors across the six geo-political zones.
On the assets declared by the incumbent president, vice president, and governors, the CCB said it was in the process of verifying them. Thereafter, it would be in a position to determine whether they are authentic or not.
Eminent Nigerians and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have been putting pressure on Obasanjo to declare his assets. For instance, Lt-General Danjuma had challenged Obasanjo to tell Nigerians how he raised money to revive his Temperance Farm, Ota and acquired tremendous shares in some companies.
An Abuja Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) on Good Governance and Accountability has asked Obasanjo to explain where he got money for massive construction of Bells University of Technology, Badagry; the ultra modern motel in Ota Farm, which it said could pass for a five-star hotel. The group, which claims that Obasanjo is worth several billions of naira in solid and liquid assets, wondered how a man who had just N20,000 in the bank as at May 1999, could have amassed such stupendous wealth legitimately within eight years.
It will be in Chief Obasanjo’s interest and self esteem to let Nigerians know the value of his assets through public declaration of what he has acquired, the value of his assets through public declaration of what he has acquired, the group insisted.
– The nation