Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sued President Bola Tinubu over failure to stop former governors, currently serving as ministers, from drawing life perks.
The affected ministers are: Badaru Abubakar; Nyesom Wike; Bello Matawalle; Adegboyega Oyetola; David Umahi; Simon Lalong; Atiku Bagudu and Ibrahim Geidam.
In the suit, numbered FHC/L/CS/1855/2023 and filed last weekend by its lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Andrew Nwankwo, at the Federal High Court in Lagos, the group is seeking an order of mandamus to direct and compel the President to bar the affected officials from collecting life pensions and other ‘retirement benefits’ from their respective states.
SERAP is also seeking an order of mandamus to direct and compel Tinubu to direct the ex-governors, to forthwith, return pensions and ‘retirement benefits’ collected by them since leaving office to the public treasury.
The organisation equally wants a declaration that the President’s refusal to give the order amounts to a violation of his constitutional oath of office.
In the case, the body is arguing that compelling and directing Tinubu to stop the erstwhile state chief executives against receiving the perks would serve the public interest, especially given the current economic realities in the country.
It insisted that their engagement as pension-receiving ministers “is an arbitrary and unlawful exercise of discretion and presidential power of appointment.”
According to SERAP, while many pensioners are not paid their entitlements, these affected officials get paid huge severance benefits.
It maintained that the Tinubu government has constitutional and international legal obligations to halt the exercise immediately.
SERAP noted: “Constitutional oath of office requires public officials to abstain from all improper acts, including collecting ‘retirement benefits’ while serving as ministers. This is clearly inconsistent with the public trust and the overall objectives of the Constitution. A false oath lacks truth and justice. The oath statements require the oath takers to commit to uphold and defend the Constitution.
“Stopping the former governors from collecting double emoluments would ensure that the country’s wealth and resources are used for the common good and benefit of the socially and economically vulnerable Nigerians, rather than to satisfy the opulent lifestyle of a few politicians.”