The Federal Government has asked Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) to send the full list of former governors and ministers that have received and/or receiving double pay and life pensions in order to enhance and ensure compliance with the judgment of the court.
The letter followed the judgment which ordered the government to challenge the legality of states’ pension laws and recover public funds collected by former governors and ministers.
SERAP had earlier sent a letter to Abukabar Malami, SAN, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, asking him to advise and persuade President Muhammadu Buhari fully enforce the judgment.
In his reply to SERAP, Malami said: “Kindly refer to your letter dated 6th December, 2019. I am writing to inform your esteemed organization to furnish me with the full list of the former governors and ministers which are affected by the judgment by Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo, in order to enhance and ensure compliance with the ruling of the Honourable Court. Please, treat with utmost urgency.”
Malami’s letter with reference number MJ/LIT/ABJ/CMC/661/793, was signed on his behalf by Anne C. Akwiwu (Mrs), Director Civil Litigation and Public Law Department.
Responding, SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare said: “We welcome your request for the full list of former governors and ministers. Any further delay in the enforcement of the judgment will continue to undermine the authority and integrity of the Nigerian judiciary. Nigerians cannot wait for you to take legal action to scrap states’ pension laws and fully recover the public funds collected.”
SERAP said immediate obedience to the judgment will be a victory for the rule, and provide an impetus for the government’s anti-corruption fight.
The group added that it will also be a rare piece of good news for the people of Nigeria, as it will send a powerful message to former governors and ministers that have collected and/or collecting double pay that they will be held to account for their actions, and mark the end of this state-level impunity.
SERAP noted that by implementing the judgment, the Buhari government will be demonstrating the important role that our judiciary can play in the fight against corruption in the country.
It recalled that former Senate President Dr Bukola Saraki stated that he stopped collecting pensions while in the Senate the moment he saw the allegation by SERAP.
“However, it is unclear if he has returned all the public funds collected as pension from Kwara State.
“According to public records, the following are reportedly collecting and/or have collected double emoluments and large severance benefits from their states: Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (Kano); Kabiru Gaya (Kano); Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom); Theodore Orji (Abia); Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa); Sam Egwu (Ebonyi); Shaaba Lafiagi (Kwara); Joshua Dariye (Plateau), and Jonah Jang (Plateau). Others include: Ahmed Sani Yarima (Zamfara); Danjuma Goje (Gombe); Bukar Abba Ibrahim (Yobe); Adamu Aliero (Kebbi); and George Akume (Benue).
“So far, Senator Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment, Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Works and Housing, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, former Minister of Mines and Steel Development, and Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transportation have denied ever receiving double payments and retirement benefits as former governors.
“Similarly, public records also show that at least 22 states have passed life pensions laws allowing payment of life pensions to former governors and other ex-public officials. These states include: Akwa Ibom, Lagos, Edo, Delta, Kano, Gombe, Yobe, Borno, Bauchi, Abia, Imo, Bayelsa, Oyo, Osun, Kwara, Ondo, Ebonyi, Rivers, Niger, Kogi and Katsina.
“In your legal action, we urge you to focus on challenging the pension laws in these states while taking steps to verify the number of former governors and ministers that have collected and/or still collecting double payments and retirement benefits, the amount collected with a view to ensuring the full recovery of the public funds collected,” the group said.
Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo in suit number FHC/L/CS/1497/2017 delivered a landmark judgment in December 2019, ordered the Federal Government to recover pensions collected by former governors now serving as ministers and members of the National Assembly.
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