The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent a list of 17 former governors who it claimed have either enjoyed or are still enjoying double pension benefits as senators or as ministers.
The action follows a request from the Federal Government to the organization to furnish it with the list in its bid to give full obedience to a court judgment to stop the public officers from enjoying double pension.
The Federal Government is also to challenge the legality of the pension laws by the state governments following the same court judgment which questions its legality in the light of the provisions of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC.
The attorney general and minister of justice had written SERAP requesting it to “send the full list of former governors and ministers that have received and/or receiving double pay and life pensions in order to enhance and ensure compliance with the judgment of the court.”
While lauding the response of the government which it said would help to concretise integrity, SERAP listed the following as those who have either enjoyed or are still enjoying double pension.
“By implementing the judgment, the government of President Muhammadu Buhari will be demonstrating the important role that our judiciary can play in the fight against corruption in the country,” SERAP said.
The organization 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),
- Jonah Jang (Plateau).
- Ahmed Sani Yarima (Zamfara);
- Danjuma Goje (Gombe);
- Bukar Abba Ibrahim (Yobe);
- Adamu Aliero (Kebbi);
- George Akume (Benue).
SERAP said that two serving ministers and one former minister had denied.
“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.”
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.”
“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.”
It would be recalled that Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo in suit number FHC/L/CS/1497/2017 delivered a landmark judgment in December 2019, ordering the Federal Government to “recover pensions collected by former governors now serving as ministers and members of the National Assembly.”
The court also directed the government to challenge the legality of states’ pension laws permitting former governors and other ex-public officials to collect such pensions.