The Human Rights advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, says it welcomes the decision by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, to stop collecting pension from Kwara State where he was governor for eight years.
The group, however, urged Saraki to take a step further by either returning to the public treasury all the pension he had so far collected since leaving office as governor to become a lawmaker or to donate the funds to a charity organisation.
SERAP had recently written an open to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), asking him to take legal action against ex-governors who are now ministers and senators and continue to earn governor’s emolument and life pension from their various states.
The group has argued that the AGF had power, under Section 174(1) of the Constitution, to recover over N40bn which had been so far collected by the concerned ex-governors.
But Saraki was said to have, while speaking with newsmen in Abuja on Tuesday, stated that he had since written to Kwara State to stop paying him such pension.
“No, I’m not collecting pension; the moment I saw that allegation, I wrote to my state to stop my pension,” Saraki was quoted to have said.
Reacting on Wednesday in a statement by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, SERAP said Saraki had done well by deciding to stop earning pension as former Kwara State governor.
But it said Saraki would also do well to join in the campaign against such double pay and to donate what he had so far collected to charity or return same to the public treasury.
SERAP said, “It is good news that Dr. Saraki has publicly made known that he has stopped drawing pensions from Kwara State.
“We hope that other public officials still receiving double emoluments will follow Dr. Saraki’s example and renounce such practice. We also urge the Senate President to publicly commit to donating to charities of his choice all pensions and allowances he has so far collected or such emoluments to the public treasury.
“The Senate President should use his leadership position to urgently facilitate a resolution by the National Assembly condemning the practice and laws on double pay and life pensions for former governors now serving public officials; urging state assemblies to abolish such laws; and calling on those that have received such emoluments to return them to the public treasury.
“Dr. Saraki should work with us to put meaningful pressure on other states to abolish their unfair and discriminatory life pension laws as well.
“Dr. Saraki can start by putting pressure on the Governor of Kwara State, Mr Abdulfatah Ahmed, and the state House of Assembly to move swiftly to abolish the law that has facilitated the payment of the unjust pensions in the first place.”