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SERAP sues Tinubu over double emoluments by Wike, Umahi, 6 other ex-govs

For his inability to stop the collection of life pensions and other retirement benefits recieved by ex-gov. Nyesom Wike, Dave Umahi, Bello Matawalle, and five others serving in his cabinet, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed law suite against President Bola Tinubu, for condoning double emoluments which contravenes the law.

SERAP in the suit filed last Friday, at the Federal High Court in Lagos by its lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Andrew Nwankwo, is seeking an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Tinubu to instruct the former governors who are now serving as ministers to stop collecting life pension, and other ‘retirement benefits’ from their respective states.

SERAP maintained that compelling and directing President Tinubu to stop the former governors from collecting any retirement benefits while serving as ministers would serve the public interest, especially given the current grave economic realities in the country.

The suite further seeks a declaration that the failure by President Tinubu to publicly instruct former governors who are now serving as ministers to stop collecting life pensions, exotic cars, and other ‘retirement benefits’ from their states while serving as ministers is a violation of his constitutional oath of office.

The ministers mentioned in the suit are Badaru Abubakar; Nyesom Wike; Bello Matawalle; Adegboyega Oyetola; and David Umahi. Others are: Simon Lalong; Atiku Bagudu; and Ibrahim Geidam and they were joined in the suit as Defendants.

SERAP holds that the appointment of those who collect life pensions and other ‘retirement benefits’ as ministers is an arbitrary and unlawful exercise of discretion and presidential power of appointment.

SERAP argued that while many pensioners are not paid their pensions, former governors serving as ministers get paid huge severance benefits upon leaving office, and are poised to enjoy double emoluments on top of the opulence of political office holders.

“The appointment of former governors who collect life pensions while serving as ministers is implicitly forbidden by the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] and the country’s international legal obligations.

“Constitutional oath of office requires public officials to abstain from all improper acts, including collecting ‘retirement benefits’ while serving as ministers.

“This is clearly inconsistent with the public trust and the overall objectives of the Constitution. A false oath lacks truth and justice. The oath statements require the oath takers to commit to uphold and defend the Constitution.

“Stopping the former governors from collecting double emoluments would ensure that the country’s wealth and resources are used for the common good and benefit of the socially and economically vulnerable Nigerians rather than to satisfy the opulent lifestyle of a few politicians.

“Compelling President Tinubu to stop the former governors from collecting any ‘retirement benefits’ would ensure that the exercise of presidential power of appointment is entirely consistent with requirements of the Nigerian Constitution and the fundamental principles of integrity and honesty” the anti-graft body held.

SERAP lamented that most of the states currently implementing life pensions and other retirement benefits for former governors like Jigawa, Kebbi, Jigawa, Ebonyi, Yobe, and Rivers owe workers’ salaries.

Throwing more light on the magnitude of fiscal hole left on the state treasury by the policies, SERAP continued,

“Several of the pension laws in these states include: provisions for six cars every three years, a house in Lagos worth N750 million, and another in Abuja worth N1 billion, unrestricted access to medical attention, and pensionable cooks, stewards, and gardeners.

“Other provisions include 100 per cent annual salaries of the incumbent governor, security operatives and police officers permanently assigned to former governors” .

SERAP reminded the President that in his inaugural speech, he promised that his administration would be guided by ‘the principle of the rule of law, a shared sense of fairness and equity’, and that ‘Nigeria will be impartially governed according to the constitution.’

SERAP, noted that Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo in a judgment dated 26 November, 2019, also indicated that double emoluments for former governors are unacceptable, unconstitutional and illegal. “Indeed, former governors collecting ‘retirement benefits’ while serving as ministers would clearly amount to taking advantage of entrusted public positions.”

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

Techrectory with Agency Report

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