The Buhari administration has indicated that anti-graft agencies will be asked to commence auditing the lifestyle of Nigerians, especially those suspected to be living above their income.
The policy was first suggested shortly after Muhammadu Buhari assumed office in 2015, but was immediately shut down by civil rights groups who warned that such policies would be receptive to abuse during implementation. Mr. Buhari pushed unsuccessfully to establish special tribunals as against conventional courts to try such cases.
On Monday night, presidential aide Lauretta Onochie said the government was going to proceed with the policy in a tweet, warning citizens to desist from living pretentious lifestyles or risk suspicion of federal authorities.
“Lifestyle Audit is now legal in Nigeria. Those who flaunt lifestyles they cannot afford can now be investigated by any of the graft agencies to produce evidence of the sources of their wealth. You can now be called upon to explain how you acquired certain properties,” Ms Onochie tweeted.
The policy could also be implemented on the basis of a 2009 ruling of the Court of Appeal, which said that anti-graft officials can use a citizen’s luxury lifestyle as sufficient grounds for opening an investigation into how they acquired their wealth to begin with. The judgement has, however, been rarely implemented because it could trigger claims of undue profiling and other controversies.
Nigerians have asked whether the policy would target corrupt politicians, most of whom are known to live lavishly and acquire assets well above their official salaries and allowances.