Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio and nine other former governors in the 10th Senate over their collection of both salaries and pensions as senators.
Joined in the suit as Respondents are the following senators and minister: Abdulaziz Yari; Aminu Tambuwal; Adamu Aliero; Adams Oshiomole; Ibrahim Gaidam; Seriake Dickson; Ibrahim Dankwambo; Aliyu Wammako; Gbenga Daniel, and Dave Umahi.
In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1360/2023 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court in Abuja, SERAP is seeking: “An order of mandamus to direct and compel Mr Akpabio, nine other senators and Mr Umahi to stop collecting both salaries and pensions, and to return any pensions collected to their respective state treasuries.”
SERAP is seeking: “An order of mandamus to direct and compel Mr Akpabio, nine other senators and Mr Umahi to clarify and disclose if they have collected and/or currently collecting both salaries and pensions as former governors.”
SERAP is also seeking: “An order of mandamus to direct and compel Mr Akpabio, nine other senators and Mr Umahi to disclose the details and amounts of the pensions so far received by them.”
In the suit, SERAP is arguing that: “The Seventh Schedule to the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended) requires the former governors to stop collecting both salaries and pensions and to return any pensions collected.”
SERAP is arguing that, “Unless the reliefs sought are granted, the former governors would continue to both enjoy life pension packages, and collect salaries as serving public officers, and the travesty and private self-interest would continue.”
SERAP is also arguing that, “It a fundamental breach of their fiduciary duties for former governors to collect both salaries and pensions. The alleged collection by former governors of double emoluments is detrimental to the public interest.”
According to SERAP, “Collecting pensions as former governors and salaries while serving as public officers is a flagrant violation of the letter and spirit of the Nigerian Constitution and the public trust.”
SERAP is also arguing that, “It is a travesty for former governors to be looking after themselves while over 137 million Nigerians are living in extreme poverty exacerbated by the removal of fuel subsidy.”
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms Valentina Adegoke, read in part: “The UN Convention against Corruption requires public officials to discharge a public duty truthfully and faithfully.”
“The UN Convention also implicitly prohibits large severance benefits for public officials. The convention specifically in article 8 requires public officers to promote integrity and responsibility in the management of public resources.”
“Paragraph 2 (a) of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers in the Fifth Schedule, Part 1 of the Nigerian Constitution provides in part: ‘a public officer shall not receive or be paid the emoluments of any public office at the same time as he receives or is paid the emoluments of any other public office.’”
“Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo in a landmark judgment dated 26 November, 2019 also indicated that double emoluments for former governors are unacceptable, unconstitutional and illegal.”
“Constitutional oath of office requires public officials including former governors in the Senate and serving as ministers to abstain from all improper acts, including collecting life pensions. A false oath lacks truth and justice. The oath statements require the oath takers to commit to uphold and defend the Constitution.”
“According to reports, there are fourteen former governors in the Senate and as ministers who may be collecting pensions running into billions of naira from their states. The former governors include: Godswill Akpabio (Akwa-Ibom State); Adams Oshiomhole (Edo State); Adamu Aliero (Kebbi State); Dave Umahi (Ebonyi State); Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto State); and Abubakar Sani Bello (Niger State).”
“Others are: Ibrahim Danwkambo (Gombe State); Danjuma Goje (Gombe State); Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara State); Gbenga Daniel (Ogun State); Aliyu Wammako (Sokoto State); Orji Kalu (Abia State); Ibrahim Gaidam (Yobe State); and Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa State). Also, there are at least seven former governors in President Bola Tinubu’s cabinet who are reportedly collecting both salaries and pensions.”
“The states currently implementing life pensions for former governors reportedly include Akwa-Ibom, Abia, Edo, Jigawa, Niger, Kebbi, Kano, Ogun, Sokoto, Jigawa, Cross River, Ebonyi, Enugu, Benue, Gombe, Yobe, Taraba, Kaduna, Plateau, Katsina, Rivers, and Delta.”
“Under Akwa Ibom Life Pension law [as amended] a former governor is entitled to an annual pay of N200 million, two official vehicles with chauffeurs, furniture allowance of 300 per cent of basic salary replaceable every four years, an aide, a cook, and lifetime security guards worth N5 million monthly, and N2.5 million for their deputies.”
“There is also state-sponsored annual medical service of about N100 million for ex-governors and their spouses and N50 million for the ex-deputy governors, five-bedroom mansions in Abuja and Akwa Ibom.”
“Other benefits include: 300% annual basic salary as ‘severance gratuity’, 300% of annual basic salary for ‘car maintenance’; 100% of annual basic salary for ‘entertainment’; and 100% of annual basic salary for ‘utility.’”
“In Abia State, a former governor is entitled to 100 per cent of the salary of the incumbent. Benefits for former governors include an official car, a police orderly, two operatives of two police men for the security of his house and allowances for cooks, stewards, driver and gardener.”
“In Gombe State, there is N300 million executive pension benefits for the ex-governors. Ex-governor and deputy governor are also entitled to a 30-day paid travel expenses annually to any country of their choice alongside their wives.”
“A former governor is also entitled to two utility cars, while his deputy is entitled to one car to be replaced periodically. Both the governor, deputy governor and their wives are entitled to paid medical treatment at home or abroad.”
“In Sokoto State, former governors and deputy governors are to receive N200m and N180m respectively being monetization for other entitlements which include domestic aides, accommodation and vehicles replaceable every four years.”
“According to the 2013 life pension law, the pension should be charged upon the consolidated revenue fund of the state. Former governors and their deputies are also entitled to other privileges, such as free medical treatment anywhere for themselves, their spouses and biological children, and the payment of all their utilities.”
“Under the life pension law in Jigawa, former governors are entitled to the same salary as the incumbent, two vehicles replaceable every four years, a six-bedroom apartment, furnished office, two personal assistants, and two drivers.”
“In Edo State, former governors and their deputies are entitled to a house in any location of their choice, pension for life at 100 per cent of their last salary, three brand new cars after five years, drivers, domestic members of staff, medical bills for them and their immediate families, amongst many other benefits.”
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.
Army Plans Review Of Operational Engagement
The Nigerian Army will be evaluating and comprehensively reviewing ongoing operational engagements in all the theatres of operations across the six geo-political zones.
This will enable the service to make decisions that will help in effectively tackling the security challenges bedeviling the country.
A statement on Friday by the Director, Army Public Relations, Brig. Gen. Nwachukwu Onyema noted that the service would be embarking on the review among others at the Chief of Army Staff’s conference slated to hold in Maiduguri between December 10 and 16.
The statement partly read, “Nigerian Army will take stock, evaluate and comprehensively review ongoing operational engagements of the NA in all theatres of operations across the six geo-political zones within the year, among other key agenda.
“This will provide the NA an in-depth insight to make far-reaching decisions that will be result-oriented towards achieving its set objective of addressing multifaceted security challenges in the country.”
Onyema said the week-long conference is an important annual event in the calendar of the Nigerian Army due to its significance to National security, peace, and stability.
He added that the event would also allow the Chief of Amry Staff, Lt. Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja to have an interaction with the field commanders.
The statement stated, “The Conference would also create an opportunity for the COAS to have face-to-face interaction with the General Officers Commanding, Field Commanders, and other senior officers to provide requisite guidance on enhancing NA operations and activities. The conference will be declared open on Monday 11 December 2023.
“The President, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, His Excellency, Bola Tinubu is expected to grace the occasion as the Special Guest of Honour.
“The Opening Ceremony will feature an address to troops of Joint Task Force North East Operation Hadin Kai inspection of the ongoing Nigerian Army Reference Hospital Maiduguri and laying of the foundation stone of Headquarters 7 Division by the Special Guest of Honour. “
Putin To Run Again For President In 2024
Russian leader Vladimir Putin has decided to run in presidential elections next March, news agencies reported Friday, allowing the Kremlin leader to extend his decades-long grip on power.
Putin told Lieutenant Colonel Artyom Zhoga, a Russian military officer, about his decision to participate in the upcoming vote following an awards ceremony for army personnel at the Kremlin, state-run news agencies reported.
”The president has said that he will run for president of the Russian Federation,” Zhoga was cited as saying by state-run news agency RIA Novosti.
”We all—I say this with confidence—in the reunited territories, all of Russia, support him. We are very happy that he heard our request” to participate, Zhoga added, referring to the Ukrainian territories Moscow claims as its own.
Putin, however, has yet to make a formal announcement that he will compete in the vote scheduled to take place between March 15 and 17 next year.
“Our president has never avoided and does not avoid responsible decisions,” said Valentina Matvienko, the head of Russia’s upper house of parliament.
“And today he has once again confirmed this. He confirmed that at the moment of a historic choice and a historic challenge,” she added.
Putin will not face any major challengers and will likely seek as big a mandate as possible to conceal domestic discord over the Ukraine conflict, analysts say.
Rockets Fired At US Embassy In Baghdad Amid Gaza War
Salvoes of rockets were launched Friday at the US embassy in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, the mission said, the latest in a flurry of such attacks amid the Israel-Hamas war.
“A multi-rocket attack was launched at US and Coalition forces in the vicinity of Union III and the Baghdad embassy complex” without causing any reported casualties or damage, a US official said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
The United States leads an international coalition battling jihadists in Iraq and neighbouring Syria, and its forces have come under repeated attacks in recent weeks.
The attacks come against the backdrop of the more than two-month war between US ally Israel and the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamist militant group Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
In a statement, the US embassy said “two salvoes of rockets” were fired at the mission compound at around 4.15am (0115 GMT).
“Indications are the attacks were initiated by Iran-aligned militias,” said a US spokesperson.
“We again call on the government of Iraq… to do all in its power to protect diplomatic and coalition partner personnel and facilities.
“We reiterate that we reserve the right to self-defence and to protect our personnel anywhere in the world,” the spokesperson added.
Since mid-October, there have been dozens of rocket or drone strikes by pro-Iran groups against US or coalition forces in Iraq as well as in Syria.
But Friday’s rocket attack was the first against the US embassy in Baghdad since the Israel-Hamas war began on October 7, raising regional tensions and fears of a wider conflict.
An Iraqi security official said “Three Katyusha rockets targeting the American embassy fell close to the Green Zone,” near the river Tigris. They spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorised to speak to the media.
There are roughly 2,500 US troops in Iraq and about 900 in Syria as part of efforts to prevent a resurgence of the Islamic State group.
– Around 80 attacks –
After the end of a seven-day pause in the war between Israel and Iran-backed Hamas last week, pro-Iran groups resumed their attacks against US and coalition forces, justifying their actions by pointing to American support for Israel.
In Iraq, most were claimed by the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a loose formation of armed groups affiliated with the Hashed al-Shaabi coalition of former paramilitaries who are now integrated into Iraq’s regular armed forces.
US forces have struck Iran-linked targets in both Iraq and Syria in response.
On Sunday a US military official speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed a “self-defence strike” was carried out in northern Iraq against a drone launch site “in the vicinity of Kirkuk” against “an imminent threat”.
The Islamic Resistance in Iraq later announced the death of “five martyrs”.
That strike came a day after Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani said during a phone call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Baghdad rejected “any attack on Iraqi territory”, according to a statement from Sudani’s office.
Sudani also said the Iraqi government was committed “to ensuring the safety of the international coalition advisers present in Iraq”.
On Wednesday, a US military official said a drone had targeted Western troops at the Ain al-Asad Airbase in western Iraq, but there were no casualties or damage.
In total, Washington has counted at least 78 attacks since October 17 against its forces in Iraq and Syria, 10 days after the start of the war between Israel and Hamas.
The Israel-Hamas war began with the Palestinian militant group’s unprecedented attack on Israeli soil, which killed around 1,200 people and saw about 240 people captured as hostages, according to Israeli officials.
In response, Israel vowed to destroy Hamas and launched a large-scale military offensive that has killed 17,177 people in Gaza, according to the territory’s Hamas government.
The attacks against US personnel included rocket fire and drone strikes, and have left at least 60 US personnel wounded, the Pentagon says.
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