A Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos State, has ordered the Federal Government to recover pensions paid to former governors serving as ministers and members of the National Assembly.
Some of those affected include former Senate President and governor of Kwara State, Bukola Saraki, Minister of Niger Delta and former governor of Akwa Ibom, Godswill Akpabio, governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, Minister of Works and Housing and former governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola and others.
The court also directed the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN to challenge the legality of states’ pension laws permitting former governors and other ex-public officials to collect such pensions.
At least 22 states have passed life pensions’ laws for former governors and other ex-public officials including Lagos, Akwa Ibom, Edo, Delta, Kano, Gombe, Yobe, Borno, Bauchi, Abia, Imo, Bayelsa, Oyo, Osun, Kwara, Ondo, Ebonyi, Rivers, Niger, Kogi and Katsina States
The verdict was in response to the suit filed by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project [SERAP].
The presiding judge, Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo delivered the judgement following an application for an order of mandamus in suit number FHC/L/CS/1497/2017 brought by SERAP.
In a statement published by SERAP on its website, the organisation quoted Justice Oguntoyinbo as saying:
“The Attorney General has argued that the States’ laws duly passed cannot be challenged.
“With respect, I do not agree with this line of argument by the Attorney General that he cannot challenge the States’ pension laws for former governors.”
SERAP said the repealed pension law in Zamfara State allowed former governors to receive pension for life; two personal staff; two vehicles replaceable every four years; two drivers, free medical for the former governors and deputies and their immediate families in Nigeria or abroad; a 4-bedroom house in Zamfara and an office; free telephone and 30 days paid vacation outside Nigeria.
It was also reported that so far, Fayemi, Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, and Fashola have denied ever receiving double payments and retirement benefits as former governors in addition to other roles in public office, while Saraki claimed to have asked the Kwara State government to stop his pension after he heard of SERAP’s suit.