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Group seeks litigation against ex-governors, deputies over N40b double pay, life pensions

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Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami

A Lagos-based rights group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has urged the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, to institute legal actions against states’ laws permitting former governors and deputies, who are now senators or ministers, to earn double payments.

The SERAP, which made the appeal in an open letter to Malami yesterday, said the former governors and their deputies were drawing the dubious payments based on retirement and pension laws crafted by them while in office.
  
It, therefore, urged the Attorney-General to use his “good offices as a defender of public interest, and exercise his powers under Section 174 (1) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), to urgently institute appropriate legal actions against these states’ laws as well as “seek full recovery of over N40 billion public funds that have so far been received by those involved.
  


The group further gave the minister seven days from the receipt of the letter failing which it will institute legal proceedings to compel him.
  
In the letter signed by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, the group noted that under the UN convention against corruption to which Nigeria is a state party, it is forbidden for any public official to engage in self-dealing, and place himself/herself in a position of conflicting interests, and to hold incompatible functions or illicitly engage in providing for himself/herself emoluments deemed unacceptable under international law.
   
“By signing such double emoluments and large benefits laws which they knew or ought to know that they would be beneficiaries, these former governors have abused their entrusted public functions and positions, and thereby obtained an undue advantage, contrary to Article 19 of the UN
Convention.
 
“The double emoluments and large severance benefits laws also violate the conflicts of interest provisions of the convention. The fact that these laws are signed by former governors in the exercise of their functions as public officials and now benefiting from the entitlements under such laws while serving as senators or ministers raises serious conflict of interest issue under Paragraph 5 of Article 8 of the convention”, it further noted.



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