A civil society group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has filed a suit against the 36 states of the federation over life pensions being paid the former governors and former deputy governors.
The suit, filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja, is coming weeks after the group got an order from the Lagos division of the court to order the Attorney General of the Federation to challenge the various state’s laws permitting former governors and former deputy governors to take life pensions.
In the new suit, SERAP urged the court to compel the 36 states in the country to publish the details of the amount they have paid to ex-governors and ex-deputy governors since return to democracy since 1999.
The suit is also praying the court to order the 36 states to publish the names of their ex-governors and ex-deputy governors earning life pension.
SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oludare, said in a statement yesterday that the new suit followed the refusal of the 36 states to honour a Freedom of Information (FoI) request made from them by SERAP.
Oludare said SERAP would like the court to make a mandamus order to compel the governors of the 36 states to “publish names and number of former governors and other officials that have received pensions and the total amounts received between 1999 and 2019 and have at the same time served and/or serving as members of the National Assembly.”
He said SERAP was concerned that payment of life pension to ex-governors and ex-deputy governors amounted to using public funds for the private interest of politicians.
He said, “Only two governors —Delta State Governor, Mr. Ifeanyi Okowa, and Kwara State Governor, Mr Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq— have responded to the FoI requests.
“Although Okowa directed his Head of Service to send the details requested, no information was received as of the time of filing the suit.
“Governor Abdulrazaq provided a copy of the pension law and the list of former governors and ex-officials receiving pensions in Kwara State under the State’s Governor and Deputy Governor (Payment of Pension) Law, 2010, naming Cornelius O. Adebayo; Mohammed Shaaba Lafiagi; Sayomi Simon Adediji; Bukola Saraki; and Ogundeji Joel Afolabi as recipients of life pensions in the state. However, the governor did not state the amounts that have so far been collected, and whether the state would pursue recovery of the pensions paid.
“Both Governor Okowa and Governor Abdulrazaq did not, in their responses, make any commitment to repeal the pension laws in their states and to seek refund of the pensions already collected by former governors and other ex-officials,” Oludare explained.