Thursday, 5 December 2019

Full List Of Ex Governors Ordered To Refund Pensions By Court

Some former state governors may have to return pensions and allowances received after leaving the office. This followed a judgment by a Federal High Court in Lagos ordering the Federal Government to recover pensions collected by former governors who are now serving as ministers and members of the National Assembly.

Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo delivered the landmark judgment last week, a certified true copy of which was obtained yesterday.

The ruling was a sequel to an application for an order of mandamus in suit number FHC/L/CS/1497/2017 brought by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).

The court also directed the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami to challenge the legality of states’ pension laws permitting former governors and other ex-public officials to collect such payments.

The judge adjourned till February 3, 2020, for hearing on the report of compliance with the court order by the Federal Government.

In defence, the AGF argued that SERAP did not show any injury it suffered as a result of the salaries and allowances given to the former governors. It was contended that SERAP neither constitutes civil servants nor public servants who have any issues with the pension laws for former governors. It was also argued that the suit filed to promote transparency and accountability did not confer locus standi on SERAP.

But the judge said he believed the AGF could “institute action in a court of law to challenge states’ pension laws for former governors.”

She said further: “I do not see any substance in the submissions of counsel to the attorney general on this issue. I, therefore, resolve this issue against the attorney general, in favour of SERAP. On the whole, I find no merit in the attorney general’s preliminary objection. It is accordingly dismissed.”

The affected governors include: 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 Yerima (Zamfara); Danjuma Goje (Gombe); Bukar Abba Ibrahim (Yobe); Adamu Aliero (Kebbi); George Akume (Benue); and Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers).

Former senate president and governor of Kwara State Bukola Saraki said he stopped collecting the pension after hearing of SERAP’s suit, subsequently inspiring the passage of a bill by the Kwara State House of Assembly to suspend payment to former governors and their deputies.

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