Ex-Governor’s Pension Law Must Be Scrapped – George Eke

George EkeA legal practitioner, George Eke, on Wednesday advocated that the controversial ex-governor’s pension law be scrapped and a “Salary For Life” approach be adopted to allow those who have served to have benefits after their time in office.

“Let them have, at least for serving, life pension” he said, while on Sunrise Daily, describing the extra perks including cooks, security aides, houses as “looting and an abuse of the office.”

Although he commended Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpbabio for bringing the discussion to the front burner, Eke insisted that the law was an attempt by governor’s leaving office to get enough money to keep them secured after their tenures.

He stressed that the bill has been passed in almost all the States of the federation and wondered where the NGO’s and civil society groups were when the law was initially passed.

According to the lawyer, the perks for those who have served in office are too much, which is why many become desperate to be in power.

“Why must the governor be in the sky after serving?” he asked, noting that no destitute contests for the position of governor and so the law mandating that a 5-bedroom house for governor “is rubbish”.

On the health pension, Eke said the governors should make the health system work and then they can be given free medical attention after office.

“Let them have at least for serving, life pension” he said, describing the extra perks of cooks, security aides, houses in Abuja as “looting and an abuse of the office.”

Pension scam: Atiku, others suspended; EFCC denies Senate stopped its investigation

The Federal Civil Service Commission on Wednesday approved that the five serving federal civil servants recently charged to court in connection with fraud at the police pension office be suspended.

One of the accused person hiding his face from the Camera. Other accused persons were also too ashamed to show their faces in camera.

The officers are Atiku Abubakar Tigo (Permanent Secretary), Ahmed Inuwa Wada (Director), John Yakubu Yusuf (Assistant Director), Veronica Onyegbula (Cashier), and Sani Habila Zira (ICT officer).

This was announced in a statement released by the office of the head of the federation and signed by the deputy director press and public relations, Tope Ajakaiye.

The suspension is to take effect from the 29th of March 2012.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had arraigned the officers before the an Abuja High Court on March 29 on a 16 count of conspiracy, criminal breach of trust and diversion of public funds.

Meanwhile, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC (EFCC) have reacted to media reports in sections that the Senate had directed the Nigeria Police to probe its former Chairman, Farida Waziri and the incumbent, Ibrahim Lamorde for perceived wrongdoing in the Pension probe.

A section of the media had also reported that the Commission has been directed by the Senate to stop further investigation of pension matters.

In a statement signed by the spokesperson of the anti-graft agency, Wilson Uwujaren, the commission said that these assertions were gross misrepresentation of what transpired at the public hearing of the Senate Joint Committee on Investigations into Pension Administration on Tuesday April 17, 2012.

“The Commission wishes to state that, at no time did the Senate committee or the Senate as a whole order the police to probe the Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Lamorde and his predecessor, Mrs Farida Waziri. Neither did it request the EFCC to hands off pension matters. Reports to the contrary, may have been promoted by interests to achieve certain nefarious ends,” the statement reads.

The EFCC spokesperson said that Mrs Waziri and Mr Lamorde had appeared at the public hearing on the pension fund probe in response to invitations by the committee.

“For Lamorde, it was his second time. When he first appeared before the Committee some weeks back he was confronted with a document that alleged that he collected estacode to travel to the US for a biometric capturing exercise by the Pension Task Team, a claim which he vehemently denied. The EFCC Chairman stated that he had never travelled abroad on any biometric capturing assignment neither did he receive any estacode from anybody for that purpose.

“Even the head of the Pension Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, who was present on the occasion, confirmed that Lamorde did not travel and did not collect a kobo in estacode. The EFCC Chairman said he was sure that the documents and claims regarding his person were forged.”

Read the complete statement from the EFCC here.

Melaye ask EFCC to investigate former Kogi governor

A former member of the House of Representatives from Kogi state, Dino Melaye has petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over the alleged illegal acquisition of 10 luxurious properties by the immediate past governor of the state, Ibrahim Idris.

The immediate past governor of Kogi state, Ibrahim Idris is asked to explain where he got the resources to own Gubabi Royal Hotel, Dreamland Suites, Summerest Hotel, Palmac Hotel, Executive Suite and Grand Ibro Hotel, formerly known as Ibro Hotel, among other properties both in and outside Nigeria.

Mr Melaye who led a group of protesters to the headquarters of the anti-graft agency in Abuja asked the commission to investigate the income and expenditures of Mr Idris between May 29, 2003 and January 27, 2012.

He said this investigation will help the EFCC to understand what he referred to be “the crude accumulation of wealth and properties by the former governor beyond his combined emoluments, salaries and allowances for the period he held sway as governor.”

The ex-lawmaker asked the EFCC to act on his petition with speed.

“The same speed with which you acted on Alao-Akala, the same speed with which you acted on governor Goje, the same speed with which you also are investigating Bayelsa. We are saying that Alhaji Ibrahim Idris Abdul said that he has pocketed the EFCC and the ICPC.

“But I know that power truly belongs to the people. That Alhaji Ibrahim Idris is not above the EFCC, he’s not above the law, he’s not above this country, Nigeria.

“So we are calling for the immediate and instantaneous re-opening of his case,” Mr Melaye said while addressing his co-protesters in front of the EFCC office.

The petition which is titled “A case of corruption against the immediate past governor of Kogi state, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris” and signed by Mr Melaye was later presented to Tony Orilade, a staff of the anti-graft agency who declined making any comment.

The EFCC had last month announced its intention to probe the tenure of Mr Idris.

The anti-graft agency had said that the former governor would be invited to explain how he got the money he used in acquiring six highbrow hotels in Abuja, as well as other choice property in Abuja, Lokoja and abroad.

The hotels allegedly owned by the former governor include, Gubabi Royal Hotel, Dreamland Suites, Summerest Hotel, Palmac Hotel, Executive Suite and Grand Ibro Hotel, formerly known as Ibro Hotel.

Other properties the agency claimed to have traced to Mr Idris include a mansion in the Lokoja GRA, a property in Area 8 Abuja, a property at Idahin, Kogi State, among others.
The commission said it would examine the former governor’s assets declaration forms in the course of its investigations, to determine the source of the funds he used in acquiring the properties.

The anti-graft agency had declared its intentions following a petition it had received from Mr Melaye accusing the ex-governor of gross abuse of office and diversion of public fund.
The petition, dated March 21 and entitled: Reporting a Case of Corruption against Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, Immediate Past Governor of Kogi State – specifically alleged that Mr Idris amassed wealth and properties beyond his combined emolument, salaries and allowances while in office.

The petition further reads: I am eminently and constitutionally qualified to demand accountability and transparency in the management, disbursement, incomes and expenditure of Kogi State government under Idris for the period that spanned between May 29, 2003 and January 27, 2012. This is in view of his crude accumulation of wealth and properties in choice areas which are outrageously beyond his combined emolument, salaries and allowances for the period he held sway as governor and could only be attributed to abuse of privilege of office, hence this submission.

Ibori’s conviction a lesson for corrupt leaders – Human Right Watch

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Tuesday said that the money laundering conviction and 13-year prison term for former Delta state governor, James Ibori, is a landmark in the global fight against corruption.

A statement issued by the HRW said the world has just got smaller for government officials who believe they can loot their country’s resources with impunity.

“The world has just got smaller for government officials who believe they can loot their country’s resources with impunity,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
“By prosecuting Ibori, the UK authorities have struck a blow not only against financial crimes at home, but also against impunity for corruption around the globe.”

Mr. Bekele said “this case was not just about financial transactions in British banks; it was about acknowledging global responsibility for helping to stop the devastating human cost of corruption in Nigeria.”

The Human Right Watch had reported that Nigerians are yet to benefit from the country’s tremendous oil wealth. Maternal mortality rates are among the world’s highest, and poverty rates continue to climb. Nearly 100 million Nigerians – some 60 percent of the population – live on less than a dollar a day, according to a recent report from the National Bureau of Statistics.

Public funds that could have been used to improve schools and health facilities have instead been squandered and siphoned off by the country’s ruling elite. Human Rights Watch has documented how in some cases powerful politicians have used the vast wealth at their disposal to arm criminal gangs that fuel political violence.

Despite the EFCC’s efforts in Nigeria to combat endemic government corruption – since 2005, the agency has arraigned 19 former state governors on corruption charges – not a single senior politician or government official in Nigeria is currently serving any prison time for these crimes.

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom continues to provide substantial foreign aid to Nigeria. The Department for International Development announced, in 2011, that it would allocate $1.6 billion in aid to Nigeria over the next four years, more than doubling the amount of annual aid over this period.