States should publish details of governors’ life pension payments, SERAP tells court

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) at the weekend asked the Federal High Court, Abuja to order publication of payment details of life pension for governors under their states’ pension laws from1999 to 2019.

In a suit filed on Friday, it prayed the court to order the publication of the breakdown of payment of pensions to each former governor and other ex-officials, as well as their names and numbers.

SERAP in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/19/2020 also sought, “An order for leave to apply for judicial review and an order of mandamus to direct the 36 state governors to publish names and number of former governors and other officials who have received pensions and the amounts received between 1999 and 2019.

It also sought publication of payment details for former and serving as members of the National Assembly spanning the same period.

The suit followed SERAP’s Freedom of Information (FoI) request dated December 9, 2019, to the governors in which it expressed concern that “Granting life pension to ex-governors and other officials amounted to using public office to advance private interests.

It insisted that such approval suggested misuse of legitimate discretion for improper reasons and created a more cynical public view of politics and politicians.

SERAP explained that so far only Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa and his Kwara State counterpart, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq have responded to its requests.

“Although Okowa directed his Head of Service to send the details requested, no information was received as at the time of filing the suit,” it added.

It said AbdulRazaq provided a copy of the pension law, list of former governors and ex-officials who have been receiving pensions under its Pension Law, 2010, adding Cornelius O. Adebayo; Mohammed Shaaba Lafiagi; Sayomi Simon Adediji; Bukola Saraki and Ogundeji Joel Afolabi were recipients of life pensions in the state.

In the suit filed by Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi, SERAP stated, “There is a statutory obligation on the 36 state governors to proactively keep, organise and maintain all records of its operations, personnel, activities and other relevant or related information such as payment of pensions to former governors, in a manner that facilitates public access to them.

“Public interest in the disclosure of such details, especially on former governors and all recipients of pensions sought by SERAP outweighs their private interests.”

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