SERAP asks Saraki to refund six years of ‘illegal’ pension - Welcome to Uju Ayalogu's Blog

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Wednesday, 2 August 2017

SERAP asks Saraki to refund six years of ‘illegal’ pension

SERAP asks Saraki to refund six years of ‘illegal’ pension

Adetokunbo Mumuni

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has welcomed Senate President Bukola Saraki’s move to stop receiving pensions from Kwara state, where he was Governor between 2003 and 2011.

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In July, SERAP had asked Abubakar Malami, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, to institute legal action on behalf of the Nigerian people to recover over N40 billion dubiously earned in double payments by former state governors who are now either senators or ministers.

It alleged that the former governors and their deputies were drawing the dubious payments based on retirement and pension laws they crafted while in office.

The organisation said Malami must, within seven days of receipt of the letter, institute the legal action. It warned that it would institute legal proceedings to compel the discharge of constitutional duty and full compliance with Nigeria’s international anti-corruption obligations and commitments if the Attorney General fails to take action.

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The human rights group specifically alleged that Bukola Saraki, Senate President; Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (Kano), Kabiru Gaya (Kano), Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom),Theodore Orji (Abia), Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa), Sam Egwu (Ebonyi), Shaaba Lafiagi (Kwara) are among former governors receiving double emoluments and large severance benefits from their states.

However, on Tuesday, Saraki said he had stopped receiving pension in Kwara.

“No, I’m not collecting pension; the moment I saw that allegation, I wrote to my state to stop my pension,” he said at a NAN forum in Abuja.

“I speak for myself on that part. I’m not doing that; I am not receiving pension from my state. I think I will leave everybody to their individual decision. Morally, if you have got another job, you should give it up until when you are truly a pensioner.”

SERAP has now gone a step further, asking Saraki to donate his past pensions to charity or refund it to the public treasury.

“It’s good news that Dr Saraki has publicly made known that he has stopped drawing pensions from Kwara state,” read a statement by Adetokunbo Mumuni, SERAP’s Executive Director.

“We hope that other public officials still receiving double emoluments will follow Dr Saraki’s example and renounce such practice. We also urge the Senate President to publicly commit to donating to charities of his choice all pensions and allowances he has so far collected or to such emoluments to the public treasury.”

SERAP also asked “the Senate President to use his leadership position to urgently facilitate a resolution by the National Assembly condemning the practice and laws on double pay and life pensions for former governors now serving public officials”.

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It urged state assemblies to abolish such laws, and called on those that have received such emoluments to return them to the public treasury.

“Dr Saraki should work with us to put meaningful pressure on other states to abolish their unfair and discriminatory life pensions laws as well as on serving senators and ministers who continue to receive double emoluments to end the practice and return all the emoluments they have so far received to the public treasury,” SERAP said.

“Dr Saraki can start by putting pressure on the Governor of Kwara state Mr Abdulfatah Ahmed and the state house of assembly to move swiftly to abolish the law that has facilitated the payment of the unjust pensions in the first place.”

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