Minimum Wage: Pensioners To Get Increased Pay From May – FG

(FILE) A signpost is seen at the NUP secretariate in Abuja.

 

The Federal Government has announced plans to commence increased payment of pension to retirees to reflect the new minimum wage.

This follows the presidential approval for the implementation of the consequential adjustment to the pension benefits occasioned by the new minimum wage of 2019.

The payment of the new pension to retirees will commence from May, Dr Chioma Ejikeme told reporters at a briefing on Friday in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

Ejikeme is the Executive Secretary of the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) – the Federal Government agency established in August 2013 in compliance with the provisions of Section 30 sub-section (2) (a) of the Pension Reform Act (PRA) of 2004 (amended in 2014).

She noted that with the approval, PTAD would commence the upward adjustment of all pensioners’ benefits according to the approved template.

The PTAD chief also announced that the arrears would take effect from April 2019 and the agency would commence payment also in May.

According to her, the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) has no reason to protest as the issue was at the conclusive stage and PTAD will continue to work hard to improve the quality of the lives of the senior citizens.

Ejikeme, however, warned that the payment of the new pension benefits would be done as a responsibility of the government and no form of gratification would be requested.

She asked the pensioners to report anyone requesting gratification before their benefits would be paid.

Dr Chioma Ejikeme briefs reporters in Abuja on April 30, 2021.

 

The PTAD chief appealed to the senior citizens to continue to cooperate with the agency to provide better services to them.

Read the full text of her briefing below:

Executive Secretary’s Speech at the Press Conference on the Consequential Adjustment to Pension Benefits Arising From the Implementation of the New Minimum Wage on 30th April 2021.

Protocols

Good morning All.

It is my immense pleasure to interact with you and brief you this morning. The Presidential approval for the implementation of the consequential adjustment to the pension benefits occasioned by the new minimum wage of 2019 has been granted and the circular released.

With this approval, PTAD is now empowered to start the upward adjustment of all pensioners’ benefits according to the approved template.

The consequential adjustment of the new pension payment will start from the May 2021 payroll. The arrears will take effect from April 2019. PTAD will also commence payment of the arrears from May 2021.

It will be recalled that on the 22nd of April, 2021, I issued a Press Release to inform the general public of the sincerity of Mr. President to implement the consequential adjustment on the pension benefits.

I made it emphatically clear that the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) has no reason to go on any protest because the matter was at the conclusive stage.

As a responsible Agency of government saddled with the mandate of overseeing the payment of pension benefits to pensioners under the Defined Benefit Scheme and taking care of their welfare, we are encouraged to do more for our pensioners. We will continue to strive to improve the quality of their lives.

Let me at this point inform and caution our senior citizens once again, that PTAD will not request any gratification from anybody before the money will be paid into their account.

They should not give their account details to anybody. They should report any scammer or anyone requesting gratification before their benefits would be paid to PTAD.

I repeat, do not give money to anybody. We have concluded arrangements to send SMS to all pensioners informing them of the payment and to caution them on the activities of pension scammers.

We continue to appeal to pension Unions to continue to partner and cooperate with the Directorate in our bid to provide better services to our Senior Citizens.

“The labour of our heroes past shall not be in vain.”

Thank you.

FG Asks Retirees To Shelve Industrial Action

PTAD logo

 

The Federal Government, through the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) on Friday, asked members of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) to shelve its proposed protest over delay in the implementation of the consequential adjustment to the pension benefits.

The retirees had earlier planned a nationwide protest to mount pressure on states and Federal Government to implement the increase on their pension, occasioned by the 2019 minimum wage.

A statement signed by the Executive Secretary of PTAD noted that the government will likely commence the implementation of the consequential adjustment by the end of April 2021, blaming the delay on “disruptions caused by COVID-19.”

Meanwhile, members of the federal parastatals and private sector Pensioners Association of Nigeria (FEPPAN) have directed its members across the country to honour the appeal by the federal government.

SEE FULL STATEMENT HERE:

Press Release

Let NUP Shelve the Protest.

It has come to the attention of the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) that the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) at its 11th quadrennial Delegate Conference resolved to go on protest at the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, tomorrow 23rd April, 2021 because of the delay in the implementation of the consequential adjustment to the pension benefits occasioned by the recently approved minimum wage.

As a responsible Agency of government saddled with the responsibility of overseeing the payment of pension benefits to pensioners under the Defined Benefit Scheme and their welfare, we are encouraged to appeal to our respected Pensioners that there is no justification for the protest after the meeting with PTAD Executive Secretary, Dr. Chioma Ejikeme.

It will be recalled that the Directorate held a meeting with the National Executives of the Union led by Dr. Abel Afolayan on the 16th March, 2021 where the issue of the implementation of the pension adjustment was openly discussed and the Union gave their understanding. At the meeting, the ES told the Exco that the implementation is most likely to commence at the end of April, 2021 going by the submissions that had been made by all stakeholders.

However, there has been a little delay due to unforeseen circumstances but we believe the implementation can still start as early as May 2021.

Our Senior Citizens have nothing to fear because we have a President that has demonstrated greater commitment to the welfare of our Pensioners through PTAD more than any other President we have had in the past. Therefore, the issue of implementation will not be different. The matter is very important to the President.

We know the Pensioners have waited enough, although the issue of the Covid-19 played a significant role in the delay, we wish to encourage our Senior Citizens to trust that the consequential adjustment will be made without further delay. There is no reason for this protest.

 

Signed

Management

Refrain From Minimum Pension Protest, FEPPPAN Directs Members

Edo To Pay Next Batch Of Pension Arrears From Wednesday
File photo showing pensioners in Edo State protest against their unpaid gratuities and pension arrears

 

The Federal Parastatals and Private Sector Pensioners Association of Nigeria (FEPPPAN) has directed its members not to participate in any minimum pension protest.

The directive was contained in a statement issued on Thursday by its President-General, Temple Ubani.

Ubani reiterated its call for President Muhammadu Buhari, to speedily intervene and ensure that pensions adjustment for Pensioners is implemented without further delays to forestall imminent embarrassing actions by the senior citizens.

FEPPPAN said the National Administrative Council (NAC) had earlier engaged government on the matter and was given a satisfactory response that assured that “Federal Government was at the final stages of approving, issuance of circular and implementation of the negotiated adjustments for pensioners.”

“Consequent upon the signing of the Minimum Wage ACT by President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR in 2019 and the implementation of the law for the active workers of the Federal Government of Nigeria, FEPPPAN and other sister pension unions have been variously prevailing on the government to implement the Pensioners component of the law in accordance with the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 as Amended,” the statement partly read.

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“Furthermore on the 1st of March 2021, FEPPPAN wrote a Passionate open Appeal to Mr. President and copied all relevant government agencies and Stakeholders on the subject. The letter which was delivered to the addressee’s hard copies was also published in the print and online media.

“As a follow-up, on the matter, the National Administrative Council NAC of FEPPPAN further took up the Executive Secretary of PTAD Dr. Mrs. Chioma Ejikeme on the matter, at a scheduled meeting of both parties held at the Directorate’s headquarters in Abuja on the 15th April 2021.

“The E. S. Ptad reiterated that the Federal Government was at the final stages of approving, issuance of circular and implementation of the negotiated adjustments for the Pensioners. She expressed the hope that the process would be concluded in two months’ time latest.

“Dr. Ejikeme described as unnecessary for the Pensioners to embark on any street protests which might portray them as being ungrateful or insensitive to President Buhari’s commitment to the welfare and well-being of the Senior Citizens through regular and prompt payment of monthly Pensions and arrears.

“However FEPPPAN NAC members assured the meeting that our Union had no plans to immediately embark on any mass action or street protests against the Administration of President Buhari as a mark of honour and appreciation for his safe return to the office from a medical trip abroad.

“We, therefore, appeal once more for the President’s intervention so that the Pensions adjustment for Pensioners will be implemented without further delays to forestall imminent embarrassing actions by the Senior Citizens.

“In the circumstances, all PARASTATALS AND PRIVATE SECTORS PENSIONERS are directed to refrain from participating in any street protests on account of the delayed pension’s adjustment.”

Kwara Governor Presents Bill To Repeal Pension Law For Former Governors, Deputies

Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRasaq

 

Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRasaq has presented an executive bill to repeal the law granting payment of monthly pension to former Governors and the deputy governors before the State House of Assembly.

The Speaker, Mr Yakubu Danladi, announced the presentation of the Bill on Friday while reading the Governor’s message to the House during plenary.

The Speaker, while presenting the governor’s request, said the bill was tailored toward realising the cardinal objective of the state government on prudent management of resources.

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All members at the plenary unanimously agreed that the bill had passed first reading after the presentation of the governor’s request for consideration.

Danladi later referred the bill to the House Committee on Rules and Business to slate the bill for deliberation during the next legislative sitting of the House.

Governor Abdulrazaq had earlier in November announced plans by the state government to abolish the payment of pension packages to former governors and former deputy governors in the state.

The announcement comes three days after Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State informed lawmakers in the State House of Assembly about his administration’s effort to stop the pension of former governors and deputies in the south-western state.

Like Lagos, Kwara Govt To Scrap Pension For Ex-Governors, Deputies

A file photo of Kwara State Governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq.

 

Kwara State Governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, on Friday announced plans by the state government to abolish the payment of pension packages to former governors and former deputy governors in the state.

The announcement comes three days after Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State informed lawmakers in the State House of Assembly about his administration’s effort to stop the pension of former governors and deputies in the south-western state.

In a statement issued in Ilorin, Governor Abdulrazaq’s Chief Press Secretary, Rafiu Ajakaye, confirmed that the governor would send a bill to the State House of Assembly next week, requesting the lawmakers to immediately repeal the law awarding pension packages to former governors and deputies in Kwara.

He explained that the governor’s decision was in line with his campaign mantra and proof that he recognised himself as a product of democracy.

READ ALSO: Sanwo-Olu Plans To Scrap Pension For Ex-Lagos Governors, Deputies

“The governor has listened to voices of the majority of the citizens opposing the pension law for former governors and deputy governors.

“As representatives of the people, the lawmakers would exercise their discretion to call a public hearing on the topic to further harvest wider opinions on the topic,” Ajakaye said.

He added, “However, the governor feels it is time for the law as it is to give way. He would rather the state commits the scarce public funds to tackling the question of poverty and youth unemployment.”

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, speaks during a budget presentation ceremony held at the legislative chamber of the Lagos State House of Assembly on November 10, 2020.

 

On Tuesday, Governor Sanwo-Olu told the Lagos lawmakers that the government would send a draft executive bill to the House for the repeal of the Public Office Holder (Payment of Pension Law 2007), but no specific date was given.

The law provides for payment of pension and other entitlements to former governors and their deputies.

The Lagos governor had explained that the move was part of innovative ways of keeping the costs of governance at a minimum while engendering a spirit of selflessness in public service.

He added that the decision became necessary amid the dwindling revenues and the appurtenant inflationary growth rates in the state.

Move To Scrap Ex-Governors, Deputies’ Pension Is ‘Bold And Courageous’ – Tinubu

A file photo of APC National Leader, Mr Bola Tinubu.

 

The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, has commended the move by the Lagos State government to repeal the Public Office Holder (Payment of Pension Law 2007) in the state.

The law provides for the payment of pension and other entitlements to former governors and their deputies in Lagos.

Tinubu, who was governor of Lagos between 1999 and 2007, commended Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for taking such a step which he described as “bold and courageous”.

He stated that he was wholeheartedly in support of the move and called on APC supporters in the state to do the same.

The former governor also congratulated Governor Sanwo-Olu on the presentation of the 2021 budget proposal to members of the Lagos State House of Assembly.

He noted that the proposal, tagged ‘Budget of Rekindled Hope’, was appropriately christened and would empower the people in the quest to rebuild the state following the recent destruction of government and private properties in the state.

Read the tweets by Tinubu below:

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, presents the 2021 budget proposal to lawmakers at the legislative chamber of the Lagos State House of Assembly on November 10, 2020.

 

On Tuesday, Governor Sanwo-Olu presented a budget of N1,155,022,413,005.82 to the lawmakers present at the legislative chamber of the Assembly complex in Alausa, Ikeja.

He also informed them that the government would be sending a draft executive bill to the House imminently for the repeal of the Public Office Holder (Payment of Pension Law 2007.

The governor explained that the move was necessary to keep the costs of governance low and to signal selflessness in public service.

Amid dwindling revenues and inflationary growth rates, he said it was important for the government to come up with innovative ways of keeping the costs of governance at a minimum.

Kaduna Govt Approves N1.6bn For Pensioners

Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai

 

The Kaduna State Government has released the sum of N1.6 billion for the payment of pensions, gratuities and death benefits to retired civil servants,

This was disclosed in a statement issued on Saturday by the Executive Secretary of the State Pension Bureau, Salamatu Isa.

She explained that the bureau has commenced physical verification of pensioners, which she notes is necessary to ensure that only genuine pensioners are paid.

According to Isa, the move is to ensure that pensioners supplied complete information, including correct account numbers and Bank Verification Number.

“We commenced payment of gratuities and death benefits on the 15th of September 2020 for batch 10. The state government released the sum of 1.6 billion naira, and we will pay pensioners from the State and 23 Local Governments that have been scheduled in the batch that is ready for payment.

“We want pensioners and next of kin of those who died to come over for physical verification. We also want to use exercise to collect complete information from the beneficiaries because some of them did not give complete information to the Bureau when they retired,” she said.

While noting that the bureau is currently paying the 10th batch of retired civil servants who have undergone verification, she lamented that there are people in batch 1-9 whose banks were unable to pay because they supplied incorrect account numbers and BVN.

She said that the bureau will ensure that all necessary information is supplied before names are forwarded to the banks to prevent a situation whereby pensioners have issues with their banks.

The Executive Secretary of the Pension Bureau asked civil servants who have retired from the state to come to the bureau with all relevant documents and information required.

She revealed that current administration inherited huge backlog of unpaid retirement and death benefits running into several billions of naira which previous governments failed to clear, saying it is impossible for any government to clear such amount in one swoop.

She commended the current administration for regular release of funds to clear the liabilities in batches.

Five Arrested In Bauchi Over N21.5m Pension Scam

Police patrol

 

The Bauchi State Police Command has arrested five suspects over an N21.5 million pension scam in the state.

The suspects are said to be employees of the Local Government Pension Board in the state.

They were apprehended for alleged criminal conspiracy, breach of trust, misappropriation, forgery and fraud amounting to N21,580,000.

This was disclosed by the police spokesman in the state, Ahmed Wakil, via a statement issued on Saturday.

According to him, the arrest followed a petition to the state Commissioner of Police by the state governor, Bala Mohammed, through his Principal Private Secretary.

Those arrested, he said, included the auditor, computer operator and three other workers with the board.

Wakil explained that the suspects inserted seven illegal names of pensioners and fraudulently siphoned various sums of money for a period ranging from six to 36 months.

The statement partly read, “On the 12th of September 2020, at about 1300hrs a letter of complaint from the office of Executive Governor Bauchi State signed by Musa Mohammed Kirfi PPS to the Governor of Bauchi State against the following suspects: Mohammed B. Mohammed, Editor of the board; Musa Bappayo, computer operator of the board and Samaila Musa all staff of Local Government Pension Board.

“The complaint was received through the office of the commissioner of police for discrete investigation.

“When interrogated the above-mentioned persons confessed to have inserted about seven illegal beneficiaries’ names into the pensions records fraudulently as Mohammed Namamu and Abubakar Muazu.

“These Two were the candidates/Beneficiaries introduced by Samaila Musa ‘m’ aged 38yrs of Federal Low-cost who inserted above-mentioned none of them is a civil servant of the state. They were found to have been receiving N65, 000 and N85, 000 per month for the period of 18 months which accumulated to N2,700,000.”

The police spokesman added, “Yasir Sulaiman (37) of Bayan airport has Two candidates, whom he received N320,000 per month for the period of 23 months which accumulated to N7,360,000.

“Garba Bala (39) of Tirwun Bauchi who introduced two candidates and receiving N300,000 per month for 36 months which accumulated to N10,800,000.

“Umar Mohammed Madara (49) of Ibrahim Bako Bauchi has one candidate, whom he receives N120,000 per month for the period of six months which accumulated N720,000.”

The police spokesman explained that efforts were ongoing to arrest other fleeing suspects in connection with the fraud.

How We Spent N25bn To Pay Pensioners Since 2016 – Edo Govt

A file photo of Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki.

 

The Edo State government says it has spent N25,047,472,632.77 for the payment of monthly pension of 13,081 pensioners from November 2016 to May 2020.

According to the Mid-Year Report of the Edo State Pension Bureau, the government has also expended over N4.3 billion in clearing the backlog of outstanding pension arrears owed about 3,128 pensioners in the state.

A breakdown of the figure shows that the government spent a total of N771,714,393.01 between November and December 2016 for the payment of pensions; expended N5,371,283,211.09 in 2017; while N6,452,535,649.08 and N7,936,681,957.45 were spent in 2018 and 2019 for the same purpose.

“For 2020, the government spent N735,069,623.04; N736,780,760.18; N759,731,334.31; N760,620,948.61; N759,695,333.23 and N763,359,423.02 in January, February, March, April, May and June respectively,” the report stated.

It explained that with the setting aside of N200 million monthly, the Godwin Obaseki administration was able to defray arrears of pensions dating back to 1996 to December 2018.

The government, the Bureau noted, divided the pensioners into batches 37 to 65 and ensured that the backlog was cleared after physical and documentary verifications.

Following the payment of outstanding pension arrears, it revealed that the government would consider harmonisation of pensions and payment of death benefits and gratuity in the weeks ahead.

The Bureau disclosed that an efficient management process has been put in place to fast-track the processing and documentation of retiring officers’ entitlements, thus ensuring a seamless migration from salary payroll to pension payroll.

It stressed that this has minimised the incidence of accumulation of pension arrears that had been a burden before the inception of the present administration.

The report also revealed that civil servants eligible to register under the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) have the benefit of a Group Life Insurance cover that makes provision for beneficiaries of contributors in the event of death in active service.

“The sum of N80,713,446.34 was paid as premium for 9,803 Edo State employees in the CPS. With this payment made, the next of kin of deceased employees receives three times their gross annual salary as benefits.

“From the commencement of the CPS on January 1, 2017 till date, a total sum of N 81,169,724.24 have been paid to families of 34 deceased employees of the State Public Service who were enrolees of the CPS,” it noted.

The report stated further, “The state government exercised political will and has been committed to the payment of pension arrears, monthly pension, death benefits under the Defined Benefit Scheme and  government’s 10 per cent matching contribution into the Employees’ RSA, in compliance with the provisions of the Edo State Contributory Pension Scheme Law of 2010 as amended.

“The state has made remittances of contributions of both employees (8%) and employer (10%) to the PFAs for 39 months, i.e. from January 2017 to April 2020 which amounts to N5,230,348,954.34.

“Of this, government’s (employer) matching (10%) contribution is N2,905,749,419.08 only, while that of the employees’ (8%) contribution is N 2,324,599,535.26. Also, a Retirement Benefits Bonds Redemption Fund (RBBRF) account has been opened with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

“This account is being funded monthly to ensure that funds are available to defray the accrued pension rights of employees who have registered for the Contributory Pension Scheme. The RBBRF Account is being funded with 5% of the total monthly wage bill of employees in fulfilment of the provision of the Contributory Pension Scheme Law.”

FG Writes SERAP, Demands List Of Ex-Govs, Ministers Collecting Life Pensions

SERAP Threatens To Sue UI, AAUA Over Increased Fees

 

The Socio-Economic Right and Accountability Project (SERAP) says it has received a letter from the Federal Government requesting the full list of former governors and ministers that have received or are receiving double pay and life pensions.

SERAP in a statement issued on Sunday explained that the letter follows last year’s judgment by Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo, ordering the government to challenge the legality of states’ pension laws and recover public funds collected by former governors and ministers.

The agency had earlier sent a letter to Mr Abukabar Malami (SAN), the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, asking him to “advise and persuade President Muhammadu Buhari fully enforce the judgment.”

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In his reply dated February 24 which SERAP said it received March 2, Mr Malami said: “Kindly refer to your letter dated 6th December 2019.

“I am writing to inform your esteemed organization to furnish me with the full list of the former governors and ministers which are affected by the judgment by Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo, in order to enhance and ensure compliance with the ruling of the Honourable Court. Please, treat with utmost urgency.”

In his response, the Deputy Director of the group, Mr Kolalwole Oluwadare hopes the judgment will be implemented promptly, for the sake of integrity, accountability and proper management of public resources by state governors.

Oluwadare said: “We welcome your request for the full list of former governors and ministers. Any further delay in the enforcement of the judgment will continue to undermine the authority and integrity of the Nigerian judiciary.

“Nigerians cannot wait for you to take legal action to scrap states’ pension laws and fully recover the public funds collected.”

Life Pension: SERAP Asks Court To Order 36 Governors To Publish Payment Details Since 1999

SERAP Threatens To Sue UI, AAUA Over Increased Fees

 

 

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit asking the Federal High Court, Abuja to order the 36 state governors in Nigeria to “publish details and breakdown of payment of pensions to each of the former governors and other ex-officials, and the names and number of ex-governors and other officials receiving pensions under their respective State pension laws between 1999 and 2019.”

In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/19/2020 filed last Friday, SERAP is seeking: “an order for leave to apply for judicial review and an order of mandamus to direct and/or compel the 36 state governors to publish names and number of former governors and other officials that have received pensions and the total amounts received between 1999 and 2019 and have at the same time served and/or serving as members of the National Assembly.”

The suit followed SERAP’s Freedom of Information (FoI) requests dated 9th December 2019 to the governors, expressing concern that: “granting pension for life to ex-governors and other officials represents the use of public office to advance private interests, suggests the misuse of legitimate discretion for improper reasons, and has created a more cynical public view of politics and politicians.”

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According to SERAP, only two governors—Delta state governor, Mr Ifeanyi Okowa and Kwara state governor, Mr Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq—have responded to its FoI requests. Although Mr Okowa directed his Head of Service to send the details requested, no information was received at the time of filing the suit.

SERAP also said: “governor Abdulrazaq provided a copy of the pension law and list of former governors and ex-officials receiving pensions in Kwara State under the state’s Governor and Deputy Governor (Payment of Pension) Law, 2010, naming Cornelius O. Adebayo; Mohammed Shaaba Lafiagi; Sayomi Simon Adediji; Bukola Saraki; and Ogundeji Joel Afolabi as recipients of life pensions in the state. However, the governor did not state the amounts that have so far been collected, and whether the state would pursue recovery of the pensions paid.”

According to the Kwara state pension law (as amended), governors and deputy governors “from the year 1967 shall be entitled to a pension for life at the rate equivalent to the annual basic salary of the incumbent and other benefits as provided by the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation, and Fiscal Commission. The pension shall include: furnished 5-bedroom duplex, 300% for furniture replaceable every 4 years; free medical treatment for governor and deputy governor and their immediate families; car maintenance; drivers [pensionable]; house maintenance; and two cars for the governor in addition to 1 pilot car to be replaced every 3 years.”

The Kwara state pension law also provides that: “governor and deputy governor shall be entitled to domestic staff including cook, steward, gardener and two other domestic staff who shall be pensionable. Governor shall be entitled to 2 SSS detail and 1 female officer, in addition to 8 policemen. Deputy governor shall be entitled to 1 SSS detail in addition to 2 policemen.”

According to SERAP: “both governor Okowa and governor Abdulrazaq did not in their responses make any commitment to repeal the pension laws in their states and to seek a refund of the pensions already collected by former governors and other ex-officials.”

SERAP’s suit is coming on the heels of the landmark judgment delivered last week by Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo of the Federal High Court, Lagos ordering the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN to challenge the legality of states’ pension laws permitting former governors and other ex-public officials to collect such pensions.

The judgment followed the invalidated pension law for former governors and other ex-public officers in Zamfara State, which provided for the upkeep of ex-governors to the tune of N700 million annually. The state has produced three former governors since 1999.

SERAP is also seeking “a declaration that the failure of the 36 state governors to provide SERAP with the requested information on Pension Law in their respective states as requested constitutes a breach of SERAP’s right under the FoI Act, 2011, and for such further order(s) the Honourable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstances.”

The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi read in part: “There is a statutory obligation on the 36 state governors, being public officials, to proactively keep, organize and maintain all information or records about its operations, personnel, activities and other relevant or related information or records such as payment of pensions to former governors, in a manner that facilitates public access to such information or record.”

“The public interest in the disclosure of details of payment of pensions to former governors and names of the recipients of such pensions sought by SERAP outweighs any private interest the 36 state governors may be protecting.”

“The suit is in the national interest, public welfare, public interest, social justice, good governance, transparency, and accountability. There is no justifiable reason for the governors to refuse to provide SERAP with the details of payment of pensions and other related information requested.”

“Public officials should not encourage, sustain, or implement jumbo pension laws that show an appearance of a conflict of interest, impropriety or create a situation of personal enrichment. The pension law negates the duty to act honestly and to represent the needs and concerns of the people, and to refrain from activities, which interfere with the proper discharge of public functions.”

“Those who manage the resources of the state ought to protect the interest of the people in their states. Public officials, while entrusted with duties and discretions, are not to act in their own best interest, but to discharge those duties and exercise those powers in the interests of the public.”

“The duties on public officials including governors flowing from their position as trustees to the public also include the duty to refrain from activities which interfere with the proper discharge of their functions, and the duty not to place themselves in a position where public duty conflicts with private interest.”

“By Sections 2(3)(d)(V) & (4) of the FOI Act, there is a binding legal duty to ensure that documents containing information relating to any life pension law for former governors and other senior ex-officials and the details of payments to such officials over the years are widely disseminated and made readily available to members of the public through various means.”

“The right to truth allows Nigerians to gain access to information essential to the fight against corruption. This is in line with the Government’s anti-corruption strategy of citizen involvement in the fight against corruption. Access to information will ultimately foster the development of democratic institutions in Nigeria.”

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

Zamfara Assembly Repeals Law Granting Ex-Governors, Others Pension

 

Former governors, deputy governors, and other political office holders in Zamfara State will no longer enjoy the payment of pension and other entitlements.

This development comes on the heels of outright repeal of the law that approves such payment by members of the Zamfara State House of Assembly.

The lawmakers abolished the law on Tuesday following a bill laid on the floor on the legislative chamber of the Assembly complex in Gusau, the state capital.

Presenting the bill, House Leader Faruk Dosara (PDP Maradun I) urged his collogues to as a matter of urgency consider the complete repeal of the law.

The law, according to him, provides the ‘jamboree pay’ for the former political leaders of the state at the detriment of the retired civil servants who have not been paid their entitlements over the years.

Dosara stressed that this category of past leaders were receiving over N700,000 million naira annually at a time when the state’s economy cannot accommodate such.

Seconding the motion, Tukur Tudu (PDP Bakura) explained that the abolition of the law was highly necessary as was detrimental to the socio-economic well-being of the people.

Following a series of deliberations and contributions by members, the Speaker, Nasiru Magarya, ordered the Clerk of the House to give the bill first and second reading.

The House, thereafter, went for a committee of a whole which led to the third reading of the bill.

The bill scaled through the third reading while members passed it and resolved that it should be sent to the state governor, Bello Matawalle, for his assent.

In a statement shortly after, the spokesperson for the House, Mustapha Kaura, noted that all past political leaders in Zamfara would no longer enjoy any entitlement, unless those prescribed by the National Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission.

Meanwhile, the lawmakers also received an interim report by the House Standing Committee on Religious Affairs led by Kabiru Dansadau (NRM Maru South).

The committee was asked to investigate the controversy surrounding the appointment of the Jumu’at Mosque Imam in Birnin Magaji Ward of Gummi Local Government Area of the state.

According to Kaura, the committee’s report indicted the district head of Birnin Magaji ward, Lauwali Hassan; district head of Gamo, Abubakar Adamu, as well as the Secretary of Gummi Emirate Council, Aminu Aliyu, among others of being culpable in the alleged scam.

It also accused them of collecting bribe from the imam which sparked some pocket of crisis in the area.

In its recommendation, the committee proposed the outright suspension of the principal officers of the emirate, pending the conclusion of its investigations.

The house agreed to this and extended the duration of the investigations by three weeks.

It has adjoined sitting until Wednesday.

Earlier, Speaker Magarya inaugurated the new Clerk of the House, Shehu Anka, paving the way for him to assume duty officially.