SERAP Drags State Governors To Court Over Payment Of Life Pensions To Former Governors

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit at the Federal High Court, Abuja, asking the court to order the 36 state governors to issue a breakdown of pensions being paid to the former governors and other ex-officials under their respective state pension laws between the year 1999 and 2019.

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project is also asking the court to grant an order for leave to apply for judicial review and an order of mandamus to direct and/or comply with the order.

SERAP is also seeking a declaration that “the failure of the 36 state governors to provide the requested information on pension law in their respective states as requested constitutes a breach of SERAP’s right under the FoI Act, 2011, and for such further order(s) the court may deem fit to make in the circumstances. The rights organisation in the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/19/2020, had written a Freedom of Information letter to all state governments requesting for details of the pensions paid to their ex-governors. The organization revealed that only two governors – Delta State governor, Mr. Ifeanyi Okowa and Kwara State governor, Mr Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq – have responded to its FoI requests, while others are yet to bring theirs.

“Governor Abdulrazaq provided a copy of the pension law and list of former governors and ex-officials receiving pensions in Kwara State under the state’s Governor and Deputy Governor (Payment of Pension) Law, 2010, naming Cornelius O. Adebayo; Mohammed Shaaba Lafiagi; Sayomi Simon Adediji; Bukola Saraki; and Ogundeji Joel Afolabi as recipients of life pensions in the state.

Though, the governor did not state the amounts that have so far been collected, and whether the state would pursue recovery of the pensions paid.

Both Okowa and Abdulrazaq did not in their responses make any commitment to repeal the pension laws in their states and to request for refund of the pensions already collected by the former governors and other ex-officials.

The rights organisation said that the suit is in the national interest, social justice, good governance, public interest, accountability, transparency and public welfare, adding that there is no justifiable reason for the governors to refuse to provide the organization with the details of payment of pensions and other related information requested.

Public officials should not support, sustain or implement jumbo pension laws that show an appearance of conflict of interest, impropriety or create situation of personal enrichment.

The pension law negates the duty to act honestly and to represent the needs and concerns of the people, and to refrain from activities, which interfere with the proper discharge of public functions.

As at the time of this report, no date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

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