A Short Guide on Assets Declaration by Public Officials in Nigeria

This report was written by The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP). The infographics design was done by Orodata Science.


Executive Summary

Assets declaration serves as a tool for detecting and preventing illicit enrichment and conflicts of interests among public officials in many countries. However, not all countries with an assets declaration regime in place require all employees in the public service to make such declarations. Further compounding the problem is that numerous assets declaration regimes do not make it explicitly mandatory for the affected categories of public officials to disclose their declared assets beyond the mere filing of such with the appropriate bodies.

Nigeria falls in the category of states where ensuring full compliance with the ample provisions of the law on assets declaration is further exacerbated by a pervasive culture of resistance to the public disclosure of declared assets. Reflecting on the array of international and comparative legal instruments as well as standards of comparative best practices from around the globe, this Guide by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) demonstrates that disclosures constitute an integral component of assets declaration systems and do not pose a significant risk to the ancillary rights of public officers in Nigeria. On the contrary, the Guide establishes that the transparency and accountability benefits provide strong reasons for the custodians of the assets declared by public officers to release such to members of the public in furtherance of the national, regional, and global anti-corruption campaign. The Guide also provides insights on the legal and policy pathways towards implementing the extant laws and realizing the ends of transparency and accountability in Nigeria.

The analysis here examines the legal framework of the assets declaration systems as well as the institutional arrangements for their management. It reviews the categories of public officials and related individuals who are required to submit declarations, as well as the particular information required. Attention is paid to procedures for processing and verifying declared information, and sanctions for violations, as well as their efficacy, were existent. Various approaches to public disclosure of the information contained in declarations are also reviewed. Issues of privacy encroachment and overall usefulness in the fight against corruption are covered as well. Case studies are presented – from Africa, Asia, America, and Europe as country examples and regional references of juridical best practices.

The overall objectives of this Guide are (i) to facilitate the strengthening of the operational capacity of public officers, government functionaries and institutions involved in the implementation and daily management of asset and income disclosure systems in Nigeria, and (ii) to inform the legal and policy discourses around these issues through a good practice manual and other tools. In summing up, the Guide proffers capacity-building strategies and tools covering practical implementation aspects of such systems, highlighting good practices by pooling existing knowledge in the field and analyzing comparative country systems to draw relevant lessons for Nigeria.

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