The federal high court, Lagos, says the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) is right to institute a suit seeking to stop former governors who are serving as senators and ministers from receiving “double pay and life pensions”.
In a ruling on Friday, Oluremi Oguntoyinbo, the judge handling the case, gave leave to SERAP to compel Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF), to challenge states’ laws that allowed the former governors to enjoy such benefits.
According to a statement by SERAP, the judge held that it could not be considered as a “meddlesome interloper” because it had “sufficient interest” in the matter.
“SERAP has sufficient interest to bring its suit to stop former governors and now serving senators and ministers from receiving double pay and life pensions, and to seek recovery of over N40bn of public funds unduly received by these public officers,” she ruled.
“[AGF can] challenge the legality of states’ laws that allow former governors who are now senators and ministers to enjoy governors emoluments while drawing normal salaries and allowances in their new political offices and to identify those involved and seek full recovery of public funds from them.
“SERAP cannot be considered a meddlesome interloper or busybody in seeking to stop double pay and life pensions for former governors. It has sufficient interest in the application for leave to apply for an order of mandamus.
“The court shall not grant leave in mandamus application unless it considers that the applicant has sufficient interest in the matter to which the application relates.
“Mindful of the fact that in an application of this nature, the judge should not delve into the substance of the main issue. Having reviewed the papers filed by SERAP, the court is satisfied that the organization has met the
criteria set by the rules of the court, and as such does not consider SERAP a meddlesome interloper.”
By the reliefs granted to SERAP by the court, the organisation will now seek recovery of over N40 billion of public funds allegedly received by these public officers.
The matter has been adjourned till March 22.
The suit which is marked FHC/L/CS/1497/17 was filed in October 2017.
Senate President Bukola Saraki, Babatunde Fashola, minister of power, works and housing; and Rotimi Amaechi, minister of transportation; among other public officers have denied receiving double pay.