By Raymond Adebayo
Sept. 17, 2023, 9:10 a.m.
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against President Bola Tinubu over an alleged failure to stop the former governors who are now serving as ministers in his administration from collecting life pensions and other ‘retirement benefits’ from their states while they serve as ministers.
Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP Deputy Director, disclosed this in a statement on Sunday.
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.
In the suit number FHC/L/CS/1855/2023 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court in Lagos, SERAP sought 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.
The group also sought “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.
“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 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.”
“The Tinubu government has constitutional and international legal obligations to stop the former governors from collecting retirement benefits while serving as ministers.
“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 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 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 following former governors are now ministers in the Tinubu administration: Badaru Abubakar (former governor of Jigawa State and Minister of Defence); and Nyesom Wike (former governor of River State and FCT Minister).
“Others include Bello Matawalle (former governor of Zamfara State and Minister of State for Defence); Adegboyega Isiaka Oyetola (former governor of Osun State and Minister of Transportation); and David Umahi (Minister of Works).
“Others are Simon Bako Lalong (former governor of Plateau State and Minister of Labour and Employment); Atiku Bagudu (former governor of Kebbi State and Minister of Budget and Economic Planning); Ibrahim Geidam (former governor of Yole State and Minister of Police of Affairs.
“The states currently implementing life pensions and other ‘retirement benefits’ for former governors reportedly include Jigawa, Kebbi, Jigawa, Ebonyi, Yobe, and Rivers. These states owe workers’ salaries and remain the poorest in the country.”
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.