Under the Akwa-Ibom Life Pension law, former Governors are entitled to N200 million annually, two official cars, domestic staff worth N5 million monthly, state-sponsored annual medical service of N100 million, and five-bedroom mansions in Abuja and Akwa-Ibom.
A lawsuit has been filed against the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, and nine other former Governors in the 10th Senate by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), for allegedly collecting salaries and pensions as Ex-Governors.
Joined in the suit as respondents are Senators Abdulaziz Yari, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, Adamu Aliero, Adams Oshiomole, Ibrahim Geidam, Seriake Dickson, Ibrahim Dankwambo, Aliyu Wammako, Gbenga Daniels, and Minister of Works, Dave Umahi.
This was disclosed in a press statement issued by the Deputy Director, SERAP, Kolawole Oluwadare on Sunday.
In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1360/2023 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court in Abuja, SERAP is seeking “an order of mandamus to direct and compel Mr. Akpabio, nine other senators and Mr. Umahi to stop collecting both salaries and pensions and to return any pensions collected to their respective state treasuries.”
SERAP posited that it was absurd for the respondents to be “looking after themselves, while over 137 million Nigerians are living in extreme poverty” which has worsened by the fuel subsidy removal.
It also stated that “Collecting pensions as former governors and salaries, while serving as public officers is a flagrant violation of the letter and spirit of the Nigerian Constitution and the public trust.”
The body seeks “an order of mandamus to direct and compel Mr. Akpabio, nine other senators, and Mr. Umahi to clarify and disclose if they have collected and/or are currently collecting both salaries and pensions as former governors.”
Also, in the suit, SERAP argued that “the Seventh Schedule of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended) requires the former governors to stop collecting both salaries and pensions and to return any pensions collected.
“Unless the reliefs sought are granted, the former governors would continue to both enjoy life pension packages, and collect salaries as serving public officers, and the travesty and private self-interest would continue.”
According to the statement, the benefits are given to former Governors and their deputies, alongside their wives, ranging from pensions to medical treatments, security, and more.
“It is a fundamental breach of their fiduciary duties for former governors to collect both salaries and pensions. The alleged collection by former governors of double emoluments is detrimental to the public interest.
“It is a travesty for former governors to be looking after themselves while over 137 million Nigerians are living in extreme poverty exacerbated by the removal of fuel subsidy.”
The suit read in parts: “The UN Convention also implicitly prohibits large severance benefits for public officials. The convention specifically in Article 8 requires public officers to promote integrity and responsibility in the management of public resources.
“Paragraph 2 (a) of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers in the Fifth Schedule, Part 1 of the Nigerian Constitution provides in part: a public officer shall not receive or be paid the emoluments of any public office at the same time as he receives or is paid the emoluments of any other public office.
“Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo in a landmark judgment dated 26 November 2019 also indicated that double emoluments for former governors are unacceptable, unconstitutional, and illegal.
“Constitutional oath of office requires public officials including former governors in the Senate and serving as ministers to abstain from all improper acts, including collecting life pensions. A false oath lacks truth and justice. The oath statements require the oath takers to commit to uphold and defend the Constitution.”
According to reports, fourteen former governors, who are now in the Senate and are ministers may be collecting pensions running into billions of naira from their states. They include: Godswill Akpabio (Akwa-Ibom State); Adams Oshiomhole (Edo State); Adamu Aliero (Kebbi State); Dave Umahi (Ebonyi State); Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto State); and Abubakar Sani Bello (Niger State).
Others are: Ibrahim Danwkambo (Gombe State); Danjuma Goje (Gombe State); Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara State); Gbenga Daniel (Ogun State); Aliyu Wammako (Sokoto State); Orji Kalu (Abia State); Ibrahim Gaidam (Yobe State); and Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa State).
Also, there are at least, seven former Governors in President Bola Tinubu’s cabinet, who are reportedly collecting both salaries and pensions.
States currently implementing life pensions for Ex-Governors include Akwa-Ibom, Abia, Edo, Jigawa, Niger, Kebbi, Kano, Ogun, Sokoto, Jigawa, Cross River, Ebonyi, Enugu, Benue, Gombe, Yobe, Taraba, Kaduna, Plateau, Katsina, Rivers, and Delta.
Recall However, that Senator Daniel had in June, written to the Ogun State Government requesting an immediate suspension of monthly payments being paid to him as a former Governor of the State.
In a letter addressed to the State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, dated June 14, Senator Daniel said his action was in compliance with his good conscience, moral principles, and ethical code against double emoluments as a sitting Senator of the Federal Republic and former State Governor.
According to him, the gross payment for his pension and allowances as a former Governor has been N676,376.95 monthly. He, however, added that he had never benefitted from any welfare package in the form of medical allowances, furniture, transportation and others since leaving office.
Under the Akwa-Ibom Life Pension law (as amended), a former Governor is entitled to an annual pay of N200 million, two official vehicles with chauffeurs, furniture allowance of 300 percent of basic salary replaceable every four years, an aide, a cook, and lifetime security guards worth N5 million monthly, and N2.5 million for their deputies.
Also, state-sponsored annual medical service of about N100 million for ex-governors and their spouses, and N50 million for the ex-deputy Governors, five-bedroom mansions in Abuja and Akwa Ibom.
Other benefits include 300% annual basic salary as severance gratuity, 300% of the annual basic salary for car maintenance; 100% of the annual basic salary for entertainment, and 100% of the annual basic salary for utility.
In Abia State, a former Governor is entitled to 100 percent of the incumbent’s salary. Benefits include an official car, a police orderly, two policemen to secure his house, and allowances for cooks, stewards, drivers, and gardeners.
Similarly, in Gombe State, there is N300 million in executive pension benefits for an ex-Governor. Ex-governors and deputy Governors are also entitled to 30-day paid travel expenses annually to any country of their choice alongside their wives. A former Governor is also entitled to two utility cars, while his deputy is entitled to one car to be replaced periodically. The former governor, former deputy governor, and their wives are entitled to paid medical treatment at home or abroad.
Additionally, former Governors and Deputy Governors in Sokoto State, receive N200m and N180m respectively, being monetization for other entitlements, which include domestic aides, accommodation, and vehicles replaceable every four years.
They are also entitled to other privileges, such as free medical treatment anywhere for themselves, and their immediate families, and the payment of all their utilities.
According to the 2013 life pension law, the pension should be charged to the consolidated revenue fund of the state.
Under the life pension law in Jigawa, ex-governors are entitled to the same salary as the incumbent, two vehicles replaceable every four years, a six-bedroom apartment, a furnished office, two personal assistants, and two drivers.
In the same vein, former Governors and their deputies in Edo State are entitled to a house in any location of their choice, pension for life at 100 percent of their last salary, three brand new cars after five years, drivers, domestic staff, medical bills for them and their immediate families, amongst many other benefits.