A federal high court in Lagos on Friday 19th January 2018 has granted the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) the right to institute a suit seeking to stop former governors who are now senators and ministers from earning double pay in pensions from their states and salaries in their new positions.
Delivering it’s judgment on Friday, Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo the Judge handling the case gave leave to SERAP to compel the Attorney General of the federation Abubakar Malami SAN to challenge state laws that allowed the former governors to enjoy such benefits. The suit marked FHC/L/CS/1497/17 was filed in October 2017.
The good news is that the order given by the Judge will help to recover over 40 Billion Naira taxpayer’s funds states have spent as pensions and salaries on their former executives even when they are yet to meet the societal needs of their citizens. However, the implementation of the judgement may experience a bottleneck and may not depending on the readiness of the Attorney General of the federation to have the political will to effect this judgement.
According to the judgement, Abubakar Malami SAN who is Nigeria’s Attorney General and Minister for Justice will have to challenge the existing laws of these states in courts in other to stop the payment of such pensions which is currently operating in states like Lagos, Rivers, Akwa ibom, Kwara among others.
In a country like Nigeria where high level politicking exists and where sacred cows abound, Malami may not have the guts to proceed with such directive as ordered by the court, also coming at a time that elections are fast approaching with the main financiers of elections being the targets of this judgement, Malami may have to soft pedal by challenging the Judgement of the Federal High Court by filling an injunction through a third party as done in most cases.
However, this judgement is also coming at a time Malami wants to take his pound of flesh on the National Assembly especially as it relates to the probe on the Mainagate, he may chose to proceed with the case to send an indirect attack on the former Governors most of whom are now National Assembly members.
SERAP has won the case but it’s left for Malami to play the ball.