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SERAP sues Akpabio and others for allegedly taking pay and benefits

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The Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, and nine other ex-governors in the 10th Senate are being sued by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) for receiving salaries and pensions while serving in the Senate.

Abdulaziz Yari, Aminu Tambuwal, Adamu Aliero, Adams Oshiomole, Ibrahim Gaidam, Seriake Dickson, Ibrahim Dankwambo, Aliyu Wammako, Gbenga Daniel, and Dave Umahi are all named as Respondents in the lawsuit.

On Friday, SERAP filed suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1360/2023 with the Federal High Court in Abuja, asking for “an order of mandamus to direct and compel Mr. Akpabio, nine other senators, and Mr. Umahi to stop collecting both salaries and pensions, and to return any pensions collected to their respective state treasuries.”

The group is also looking to get an order of mandamus to require and compel Mr. Akpabio, nine other senators, and Mr. Umahi to clarify and disclose whether or not they have received and are receiving both wages and pensions as former governors.

A key argument made by SERAP is that “the Seventh Schedule to the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended) requires the former governors to stop collecting both salaries and pensions and to return any pensions collected.”

In their brief, SERAP argues that, “unless the reliefs sought are granted, the former governors would continue to both enjoy life pension packages, and collect salaries as serving public officers, and the travesty and private self-interest would continue.”

“The UN Convention against Corruption requires public officials to discharge a public duty truthfully and faithfully,” read a section of the lawsuit filed on behalf of SERAP by its attorneys, Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms Valentina Adegoke.

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The United Nations Convention also discourages excessive severance packages for government employees. Article 8 of the convention clearly calls for public officials to advocate for honest and accountable spending of public funds.

“Paragraph 2 (a) of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers in the Fifth Schedule, Part 1 of the Nigerian Constitution provides in part that ‘a public officer shall not receive or be paid the emoluments of any public office at the same time as he receives or is paid the emoluments of any other public office.’

Reports indicate that fourteen ex-governors currently serve in the Senate or as ministers, and that they may be receiving pensions worth billions of naira from their respective states. The group of ex-heads of state includes Godswill Akpabio (Akwa-Ibom State), Adams Oshiomhole (Edo State), Adamu Aliero (Kebbi State), Dave Umahi (Ebonyi State), Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto State), and Abubakar Sani Bello (Niger State).

Ibrahim Danwkambo (Gombe State), Danjuma Goje (Gombe State), Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara State), Gbenga Daniel (Ogun State), Aliyu Wammako (Sokoto State), Orji Kalu (Abia State), Ibrahim Gaidam (Yobe State), and Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa State) are among the others. In addition, President Bola Tinubu’s cabinet includes at least seven ex-governors, some of whom are likely receiving pensions in addition to their current pay.

The trial on this lawsuit has not yet been scheduled.

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