Nigeria’s 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 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.”
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 as 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.”