Socio-Economic Rights Agenda, SERAP has taken on the challenge thrown at it by Justice Minister and attorney-general of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, by listing some of Nigeria’s ex-governors who have collected double pay in the past or who are doing so now.
In its response to Malami’s 24 February letter, SERAP said:
“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.”
Malami had asked SERAP to send the full list of former governors and ministers that have received or are receiving double pay and life pensions.
Malami’s letter followed SERAP’s request that he should implement last year’s judgment by Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo ordering the government to challenge the legality of states’ pension laws and recover public funds collected by former governors and ministers.
SERAP asked Malami to “advise and persuade President Muhammadu Buhari fully enforce the judgment.”
In his reply dated 24 February, Malami requested for a list of the former governors and ministers which are affected by the judgment , in order to enhance and ensure compliance with the ruling.
But it appears Malami did not fully address SERAP’s concern. SERAP, in the spirit of the judgment, wants Malami to challenge the various pension laws governors recommended for themselves in their states.
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.”
“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…
“However, we urge you to urgently ask anti-corruption agencies and other appropriate agencies of government to verify these claims, and to investigate the cases of other former governors and ministers that have collected and/or still collecting double pay and life pensions, and to publish the findings of any such investigations.”
“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.