Abubakar Malami, the attorney-general of the federation, has been asked by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), to take legal action against senators and ministers who were formerly governors, The Cable reports.
This in order to recover an alleged N40bn earned in double payment by such individuals.
According to SERAP, the former governors who receive double emoluments and severance benefits from their states include senate president Bukola Saraki, Rabiu Kwankwaso, Godswill Akpabio, Theodore Orji, Abdullahi Adamu, Sam Egwu, Shaaba Lafiagi.
Others mentioned are Joshua Dariye, Jonah Jang, Ahmed Sani Yarima, Danjuma Goje, Bukar Abba Ibrahim, Adamu Aliero, George Akume, Biodun Olujimi, Enyinaya Harcourt Abaribe, Rotimi Amaechi, Kayode Fayemi, Chris Ngige and Babatunde Fashola.
SERAP aired its grievance in a letter signed by the group’s executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni.
In the letter, Mumuni said the afore-mentioned individuals crafted retirement and pension laws as governors which have enabled them to draw dubious salaries currently.
SERAP urged Malami to challenge the legality of states’ laws which permit former governors to enjoy emoluments even as they receive normal salaries and allowances in their new positions.
The letter read in part: “(Malami should) seek full recovery of over N40 billion of public funds that have so far been received from those involved; and to begin to take these steps within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter, failing which SERAP will institute legal proceedings to compel the discharge of constitutional duty and full compliance with Nigeria’s international anti-corruption obligations and commitments.
“Public interest is not well served when government officials such as former governors, deputies supplement their emoluments in their current positions with life pensions and emoluments drawn from their states’ meagre resources and thereby prioritizing their private or personal interests over and above the greatest happiness of the greatest number.
“SERAP considers double emoluments for serving public officials unlawful, as the laws granting those benefits take governance away from the arena of public interest, and create the impression that former governors acted contrary to the best interests of the general public.
“Double emoluments and large severance benefits for former governors now serving public officials constitute a blatant betrayal of public trust.
“SERAP is concerned that several serving senators and ministers are receiving salaries and life pensions running into billions of naira from states that are currently unwilling or unable to pay their workers’ salaries.
“Public office is a public trust, and as such, citizens depend upon their governors, senators and ministers to act in the public interest, not for their own or another’s profit or benefit.”
“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 him/herself in a position of conflicting interests, and to hold incompatible functions or illicitly engage in providing to him/herself emoluments deemed unacceptable under international law.
“This is a clear case of the former governors placing their private or personal interests over and above their entrusted public functions, and unduly influencing the level of benefits they receive.
“SERAP argues that taking advantage of entrusted public offices and positions to enact laws to grant double emoluments and large severance benefits to serving public officials amounts to not only an abuse of office but also incorrect, dishonorable and improper performance of public functions, as per the provisions of paragraph 2 of article 8 of the convention.”
Meanwhile, it’s previously reported that the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL), came up with the list of 21 senators who still receive pension as either former governors or former deputy governors.
It named senate president Bukola Saraki and Godswill Akpabio as two of the former governors still milking their states.
The implication is that while they receive their salaries and other allowances from the government as senators, they also get paid pension by their various states, many of which are currently financially distressed.