An advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, says the court has upheld its right to take steps to stop former governors, who are now ministers and senators, from further collecting emolument and life pension from their states.
SERAP said, in a statement on Sunday, that its right to proceed against the concerned former governors was upheld by the Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday.
The statement quoted Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo, who delivered the ruling, as holding that SERAP had “sufficient interest to bring its suit to stop former governors and now serving senators and ministers from receiving double pay and life pensions, and to seek recovery of over N40bn of public funds unduly received by these public officers.”
According to the statement, the judge held that SERAP had sufficient interest in the case to confer it with locus standi to pursue the case and it could, therefore, not be described as a meddlesome interloper.
“SERAP cannot be considered a meddlesome interloper or busybody in seeking to stop double pay and life pensions for former governors,” the judge was quoted as saying.
The group had filed the suit last year, seeking an order of mandamus to compel the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), to file a suit for the recovery of about N40bn from the affected former governors.
It argued that the AGF was empowered to recover the money by virtue of Section 174(1) of the constitution.
It had argued that “public interest is not well served when government officials such as former governors, and their deputies supplement their emoluments in their current positions with life pensions and emoluments drawn from their states’ meagre resources, and thereby prioritising their private or personal interests over and above the greatest happiness of the greatest number.”
In a letter it wrote to the AGF, the group complained about enactment of laws by various states’ Houses of Assembly, to give fat severance packages to ex-governors and their deputies.
It said, “According to information at our disposal, those who reportedly receive double emoluments and large severance benefits from their states 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), and Jonah Jang (Plateau). Others include: Ahmed Sani Yerima (Zamfara); Danjuma Goje (Gombe); Bukar Abba Ibrahim (Yobe); Adamu Aliero (Kebbi); George Akume (Benue); and Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers).