FEDERAL government will soon be moving after some ex-governors who later served as ministers and lawmakers to recover monies paid to them as federal pensions.
Political office holders to be affected by the new development include former Senate President and one-time governor of Kwara State, Bukola Saraki and former Senate Minority Leader and one-time governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio among others.
A Federal High Court, presided over by Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo in Ikoyi, Lagos State, gave impetus for the move in an order it recently made directing the recovery of pensions collected by former governors who later served as ministers and members of National Assembly.
Justice Oguntoyinbo made the order while delivering judgement in suit number FHC/L/CS/1497/2017 brought before the court by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) praying for an order of mandamus.
The court also directed Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) to challenge the legality of states’ pension laws which allow former governors and other past public officials to be entitled to such bogus pensions.
Disclosing this development in a statement published on its website yesterday, SERAP said it has obtained a certified true copy of the judgement.
“The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos in a landmark judgment has ordered the Federal Government to recover pensions collected by former governors now serving as ministers and members of the National Assembly, and 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,” the statement reads.
According to the statement, Justice Oguntoyinbo queried Attorney General’s argument that State Pensions Laws duly passed cannot be challenged.
“The question that comes to mind is: who should approach the Court where a particular law is not in the best interest of Nigeria as a country or National interest? Who should approach the Court where a particular law is detrimental to the interest of the country?
Who should institute actions in court for the purpose of recovering public funds collected? In my humble view, the Attorney General should be interested in the legality or validity of any law in Nigeria and how such laws affect or will affect Nigerians, being the Chief Law Officer of the Federation,” SERAP quotes Justice Oguntoyinbo as saying.
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