Â Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
The Minister Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi and his counterpart in the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, have denied ever receiving double payments and retirement benefits as former governors in addition to other roles in public office.
A civil society organisation, Social-Economic Rights Accountability Project (SERAP) had recently petition the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, allegingÂ some former governor who currently in the National Assembly and executive arm of government were currently receiving double salaries.
But Fayemi challenged SERAP to make public details or proof of pension and any other remuneration he was alleged to be enjoying from the Ekiti State government since leaving office as governor of the state in 2014, or publicly apologise to him for including his name in the list of serving public officers who are earning pensions.
The minister said the group should be prepared for legal consequences of the defamatory statement should it fail to retract the allegation or show concrete evidence of the alleged pension payment.
Fayemi, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Mr Yinka Oyebode, in Abuja yesterday said he had not received a kobo either as pension (as passed by the State House of Assembly) or as severance package (approved by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission) from the state government since leaving office on October 15, 2014.
The minister said while he subscribes to public scrutiny of public officials, such an endeavour should be done with due diligence in order to avoid making wild allegations that are capable of misleading the public.
â€œContrary to SERAPâ€™s statement, the fact is that Fayemi does not enjoy any pension from Ekiti State government neither has he received any severance package as approved by RMFAC.
â€œAll SERAP needed to have done in this case was to place a call to the Minister or carry out a thorough investigation at the Ekiti State Ministry of Finance, before going public on such a sensitive matter.
â€œThe leadership of SERAP is urged to do the needful- substantiate the allegation with proof or retract the highly embarrassing statement and offer a public apology to the minister within seven days or be prepared to defend it in the law court,â€ the statement added.
On his part, Ngige in a statement said he SERAP did not carry out its investigation before the inclusion of name in the allegation.
He stated: â€œI therefore wish to state again that I am fully aware of the relevant sections of the law, public morality and the prevailing ethos of honest and transparent leadership, which the federal government and our great party led by Muhammadu Buhari have been working assiduously to enthrone. Â It is hence imperative for me to further explain my own circumstance as I neither draw from nor have at any time drawn double emoluments from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the federation or Anambra State, having been elected or appointed into public service positions at different times.
â€œI wish to put on record that since I left office in 2006 as governor of Anambra State; through the four years I spent in the 7thÂ Senate (June 2011-2015) and currently as the Minister of Labour and Employment with effect from November 11, 2015, I have never drawn a dime even in the intervening period that I was not in public office, as salary, emolument and pension from the Anambra State government coffers.
â€œIn fact, I have not received any severance benefit as prescribed in the Anambra State House of Assembly law on pensions and other welfare and benefits for former governors and deputy governors, 2006, and amended 2013.Â Â Aside the two utility vehicles given to me some years ago, I have not accessed any of the privileges and other lawful trappings due to the office.â€
It is worth stating for avoidance of any doubt, Ngige said, Â that the Supreme Court affirmed that I was entitled to these benefits in their landmark judgment in Mike Balonwu and others Vs Anambra State Government, which declared me governor, defacto and dejure between 2003-2006.
He said this explanation has become more necessary because of the calls and enquiries he has been receiving from so many quarters especially his friends and even from current constituency, the labour.
According to the minister, â€œthe ultimate aim of public office is service to the people and putting the public conscience in mind is the only way to achieve it.Â This I will continue to pursue.â€