The federal government has asked Socio-Economic Right Accountability Project (SERAP) to send the full list of former governors and ministers that have received or are receiving double pay and life pensions in order to enhance and ensure compliance with the judgment of the court.
The letter follows the judgment last year ordering 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 the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abukabar Malami, asking him to advise and persuade President Muhammadu Buhari to fully enforce, the judgment.
In his reply dated February 24, 2020 but which SERAP said it received March 2, 2020, Malami said: “Kindly refer to your letter dated December 6, 2019. I am writing to inform your esteemed organisation 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.”
Responding, SERAP’s Deputy Director, Mr. 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 also said: “Immediate obedience to the judgment will be a victory for the rule, and provide an impetus for the government’s anti-corruption fight. 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.”
Malami’s letter with reference number MJ/LIT/ABJ/CMC/661/793, was signed on his behalf by the Director Civil Litigation and Public Law Department Mrs. Anne C. Akwiwu.
SERAP’s response dated March 5, 2020, read in part: “We hope this judgment will be implemented duly and promptly for the sake of integrity, accountability and proper management of public resources by state governors.
“Complying with the judgment as promised will enhance the authority, integrity and independence of the judiciary. It will be entirely consistent with the government’s constitutional responsibility and international human rights and anti-corruption obligations.
“By implementing the judgment, the government of President Buhari will be demonstrating the important role that our judiciary can play in the fight against corruption in the country.
“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: Senators 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.”