SERAP sues FG over governors’ N40bn double pay, life pension recovery



Uba Group

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has filed a contempt suit against the Federal Government and Abubakar Malami, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice “for failing to recover over N40 billion double pay and life pensions from former governors who are serving as lawmakers and ministers.”

Justice Remi Oguntoyinbo of the Federal High Court, Lagos had in November 2019 ordered the Federal Government to “recover life pensions collected by former governors serving as ministers and members of the National Assembly.”

Justice Oguntoyinbo also directed Malami to “challenge the legality of states’ life pension laws permitting former governors and other ex-public officials to collect such pensions.”

However, the government of President Muhammadu Buhari has failed to implement the judgement.

Justice Oguntoyinbo who last month retired from the bench expressed “regret” during a valedictory court session held in her honour that the judgement has not been implemented.

She stated, “I remember with pride my landmark judgement in SERAP vs. The Attorney-General. Regrettably, that order is yet to be obeyed. I find it very disappointing that Court orders are often not obeyed. If there’s anything I wish to change, it is the impunity towards judicial decisions and the disrespect for the bench.”

SERAP last Friday moved to enforce the judgement by filing Form 48 contempt suit at the Federal High Court, Lagos.

SERAP said, “A certified true copy of the judgement of November 26, 2019, by Justice Oguntoyinbo, has long been served on Malami.”

Form 48 which is the notice of consequence of disobedience of court orders reads in part: “Unless you obey the orders of the court contained on the reverse side of this process you shall be deemed to have disobeyed the orders of the court and shall be liable to committed to prison for contempt.”

In a statement dated May 7, 2023, and signed by SERAP deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said, “It’s unacceptable to take the court, which is the guardian of justice in this country, for a ride. A democratic state based on the rule of law cannot exist or function, if the government routinely ignores and/or fails to abide by court orders.”

The statement, read in part, “Despite the service of the certified true copy of the judgement on the Attorney General of the Federation, the Buhari administration has failed and/or refused to obey it.”

“While many Nigerian workers and pensioners have not been paid by state governors for several months and struggle to make ends meet, former governors continue to collect double emoluments and enjoy opulent lifestyles.”