NLC flays double pay for public officers
Cautions NASS against amending CCT law
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has condemned the payment of salaries and pension to about 21 former state governors. Speaking in Abuja on the huge severance pay package for ex-governors, President of Congress, Ayuba Wabba, said NLC is saddened by the recent revelations that not less than 21 governors, deputy governors, Senators or Ministers and drawing billions of Naira in pension payment and salaries at the same time amidst non-payment of workers’ salaries for many months.
Wabba said “Our revulsion stems from the fact that most, if not all of these ex-governors coerced or seduced their various Houses of Assembly into approving for them these bogus and illegitimate pension rates and property (as cars and houses) in contravention of the extant laws and regulations by the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission.
“Similarly, they are mindlessly drawing these allowances (that they do not need) from our commonwealth when the states are in serious financial difficulty and poverty is rife in the land. They get paid regularly whether the state can afford it nor not.”
NLC declared that if offends the principle of universal justice, equity and good conscience when laws are specifically or pre-meditatively made for or against an individual or a group of individuals in order to exact an undue advantage or revenge.
The national umbrella body of Nigerian workers demanded that the offensive State laws be repealed forthwith, and the ex-governors and their ex-deputies be made to refund what they have taken saying such an act is illegal and immoral to collect double pay from the same public coffers.
“We demand that all citizens be treated equally in furtherance of their fundamental rights. We also demand that the Federal Government in the spirit of its fight against corruption not only ensure these ill-gotten payments are refunded forthwith, it should ensure no governor ever create for themselves such criminal advantages. Nobody is above the law,” it stated.
Wabba also described the current attempt to review the law establishing Code of Conduct Bureau and the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) as a dangerous amendment.
The National Assembly has cited as reasons for the amendment, the need to give every public officer (appearing before the tribunal) a fair hearing, justice and equity ( in line with the provisions of Section 36 [a] of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the need to remove from political control, the two bodies which now play a critical role in the administration of criminal justice system.
In furtherance of its objective, the Senate fast-tracked the process of this amendment via two readings (first and second) within 48 hours. It has also set in motion the process for removing the jurisdictional powers of CCT on criminal matters via the amendment of the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act.
In consideration of the fact that sometimes in most climes, corruption trials are triggered by reasons other than corruption, it makes a lot of sense to create legislations that guarantee fair trial and justice for the accused. Secondly, legislative amendments are part of the constitutional functions or duties of the National Assembly.
However, NLC obserrved that the noble intention of the Senate notwithstanding, the timing is suspect and fraught with danger. It added: “It is quite intriguing that it took the trial of the Senate President for the Senate to discover these flaws in the law(s). Putting it bluntly, in spite of the spirited defences by the Deputy Senate President to the contrary, not a few believe that this legislative move is a desperate attempt to scuttle the trial of the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, at CCT.”
NLC further submitted that it does not think the privileges of the Senate President extend to exemptions from civil or criminal trials. It added: “At the moment, only the President and his Vice, the Governor and his Deputy enjoy this rare privilege. Thus, what the Senate is trying to do is no more than a legislative ambush. We need not remind the Senate that we are all equal or ought to be equal before the law, in spite of our stations in life. We similarly believe that the fight against corruption should be total and not selective. If this amendment therefore is allowed to scale through, it would have set a dangerous precedent.”
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