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Why jumbo perks for ex-governors, others must cease, by lawyers

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Following the nod by the Federal High Court, Abuja to the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) compelling former governors and other public officials to disclose their life pensions, lawyers have renewed the call for the abolition of the perks in all of the 36 states of the federation.

Justice Folashade Giwa-Ogunbanjo granted the leave, to impress it on the incumbents, to make bare details of the payments, suspected to run into billions of billions of naira, from 1999 to 2019.

Reacting, Abuja-based advocate, Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama (SAN), insisted that the parochial legislation backing the huge life allowances were unconstitutional and illegal.

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“The pension scheme is both unconstitutional and illegal. The pension scheme must be rescinded forthwith. The only legal hurdle to cross is that most of the states had already passed obnoxious laws to provide the requisite legal regimes, but the same legislatures can abrogate them. The present economic atmosphere, both locally and globally, is not supportive of the sustenance of the sucking and killer pension scheme,” he noted.

Similarly, Lagos lawyer, Dr. Paul Ananaba (SAN), explained that the pension laws were made based on political considerations. He decried the fact that some states enacted edicts to back up the “wrong practice,” commending the ones that had reversed them.

In the words of the immediate past president of the Campaign for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Malachy Ugwummadu, also a legal practitioner, the ‘disproportionate’ terminal entitlements for political officer holders was wrong.

According to him, the lawsuit against it emphasised the “general sentiment that they have remained insensitive and impervious to the sustained campaigns against such.”

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To Stephen Azubuike, who practises law in Lagos, the development “shows that many Nigerian political leaders demonstrate a high level of insensitivity to the current economic condition of the country.”

“The high cost of governance is only evidence of the true state of affairs in the system. Our leaders pursue political power, primarily, for personal economic gains,” he stated.

In his submission, outspoken attorney, Chief Goddy Uwazuruike, said the servicing of the high lifestyles of a few ex-public officeholders with taxpayers’ money was “scandalous.”

For the Director of Legalpedia Nigeria Limited, Emeka Albert, the Attorney General of the Federation ought to have challenged the laws passed by the states to legalise the “outrageous benefits.”

Urging the immediate cessation of the exercise, the Kano notary applauded Governors Hope Uzodinma and Bello Matawalle of Imo and Zamfara, as well as others that had mustered the political will to halt the payments in their states.

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