SERAP urges Tinubu to emulate Otti, stop pensions to ex-govs

SOCIO-ECONOMIC Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Bola Tinubu to emulate Governor Alex Otti of Abia State by obeying the court judgment which ordered the Federal Government to recover pensions collected by former governors. 

It also asked the President to challenge the legality of states’ pension laws permitting former governors to collect outrageous pensions.

According to a statement signed by SERAP deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, on Sunday, March 24, the court judgment, dated November 26, 2019, was delivered by Oluremi Oguntoyinbo, a judge, following a suit by SERAP.

Reacting to the bill signed into law to repeal Abia state governors and deputy governors pension law No 4 of 2001, which allows former governors and deputy governors in the state to receive lifetime salaries and get houses in the state and Abuja, SERAP asked Tinubu to immediately stop states from paying pension to ex-governors.

The SERAP warned that failure to promptly obey the judgment would allow former governors, their deputies, including those serving as ministers in Tinubu’s administration, and former governors at the National Assembly who receive pensions to escape accountability for their actions.

The letter read in part: “SERAP agrees with former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s conclusion that states’ pension laws are ‘acts of daylight robbery’, and his call for such laws to be abolished by other state governors.

“Immediately obeying the judgment would show the sovereignty of the rule of law in Nigeria and go a long way in protecting the integrity of the country’s legal system.

“Obeying the judgment would also show you as a defender of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended), the rule of law, and public interest within government.”

The organisation noted how former President Muhammadu Buhari turned a blind eye to the judgment, adding that governors failed to provide names of former governors and their deputies who have collected and continue to collect pensions from their states and the amount so far spent on these ex-officials.

SERAP further stated that over  N40 billion had reportedly been collected by former governors serving as ministers and members of the National Assembly.

The organisation said it was concerned that while state governors had not paid many Nigerian workers and pensioners for several months and struggled to discharge responsibility, former governors continue to collect double emoluments and enjoy opulent lifestyles.

“According to our information, those who are reportedly receiving double emoluments and large severance benefits from their states include Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom); Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (Kano); Kabiru Gaya (Kano); Theodore Orji (Abia).

“Others are Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa), Sam Egwu (Ebonyi), Shaaba Lafiagi (Kwara), Joshua Dariye (Plateau); and Jonah Jang (Plateau).






     

     

    “At least 22 states, starting from Lagos State, have reportedly passed life pensions laws for former governors and other ex-public officials. Other states include Akwa Ibom; Edo; Delta; Ekiti; Kano; Gombe; Yobe; Borno; Bauchi; Abia; Imo; Bayelsa; Oyo; Osun; Kwara; Ondo; Ebonyi; Rivers; Niger; Kogi; and Katsina,” the statement added.

    Recall that Otti, on Thursday, March 21, signed the Abia State of Nigeria Governors and Deputy Governors Pension Repeal Bill of 2024 into law.

    Otti, in his address after assenting to the law, described the new law as part of the efforts to promote good governance and stewardship in the state. 

    However, at least two former governors in the state said they did not receive pensions despite the existence of the law.

    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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