A Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos has ordered the Federal Government to recover pensions collected by former governors serving as ministers and members of the National Assembly.
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.
According to Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, who claimed to have obtained the certified true copy of the judgement, the verdict was given by Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo following an application for an order of mandamus in suit number FHC/L/CS/1497/2017 brought by the organisation.
In a statement on its website, SERAP said that Justice Oguntoyinbo said, “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.”
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.
SERAP said the repealed pension law in Zamfara State allowed former governors to receive pension for life; two personal staff; two vehicles replaceable every four years; two drivers,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 Kwara State to stop his pension, after he heard of SERAP’s suit.
At least 22 states starting from Lagos State have passed life pensions laws for former governors and other ex-public officials. Others include Akwa Ibom; Edo; Delta; Kano; Gombe; Yobe; Borno; Bauchi; Abia; Imo; Bayelsa; Oyo; Osun; Kwara; Ondo; Ebonyi; Rivers; Niger; Kogi; and Katsina States.