Former governors now serving as ministers and members of the National Assembly may have to refund money they have collected as Pensions since leaving office as state chief executives.
This is because a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered the Federal Government to recover the funds and also directed the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to challenge the legality of states’ pension laws permitting former governors and other public officials to collect such pensions.
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) disclosed this in a statement signed on Wednesday by its Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare.
The rights group also disclosed this in series of tweets on their official Twitter handle.
BREAKING: We’ve obtained a landmark judgment from the federal high court ordering @NigeriaGov to recover life pensions collected by Saraki, Akpabio, others & directing the AGF to challenge the legality of states’ pension laws permitting former governors to collect such pensions.
— SERAP (@SERAPNigeria) December 4, 2019
Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo delivered the judgement following an application for an order of mandamus brought by the SERAP.
Justice Oguntoyinbo had disagreed with the Attorney General and Minister of Justice who had maintained that the states’ laws duly passed cannot be challenged.
She insisted that the Attorney General should be interested in the legality or validity of any law in Nigeria and how such laws affect or will affect Nigerians
In the words of Justice Oguntoyinbo, “the attorney general is hereby directed to urgently institute appropriate legal actions to challenge the legality of states’ laws permitting former governors, who are now senators and ministers to enjoy governors’ emoluments while drawing normal salaries and allowances in their new political offices and to identify those involved and seek full recovery of public funds from the former governors.”
The judgement comes against the backdrop of the recent decision of the Zamfara State House of Assembly abolishing the pension for former governors and other public officers in the state.
The enactment of the pension laws had attracted condemnation from Nigerians who have described it the trend as outrageous and morally indefensible by the former government officials.