SERAP writes 14 former governors in 10th Senate asking them to return pensions received from their states

The Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, and the other 13 former governors in the 10th Senate have been urged by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) to reveal the total amount of life pensions they have received from their respective states while serving as governors.

In addition, SERAP encouraged the former governors to disclose whether they have received or are now receiving life pensions from their respective states as past governors, adding that if they are, they should stop receiving any such pensions and return the pensions received to the treasury.

In the tenth Senate, there are fourteen previous governors.

The organization claimed that, in accordance with the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), their constitutional oath of office required them to publicly reject and return any pensions in a letter dated June 3, 2023 and signed by SERAP Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare.

The organization asserts that performing a public function involves acting in the public interest, not against it, and that the alleged collecting of life pensions from previous governors’ home states constitutes private self-interest and is against the public good.

The letter, read in part: “Nigerians expect you to act in the public interest including by ending the collection of any life pensions from your respective states and returning any such pensions that may have been collected to the treasury.

“Collecting life pensions as former governors while in the Senate would clearly violate constitutional provisions and amount to taking advantage of entrusted public positions.

“Ending the practice of former governors in the Senate collecting life pensions from their states would improve public confidence in the integrity and honesty of the National Assembly. It would show that the Senate can focus on serving the public interest rather than looking after themselves.

“We urge you to emulate former Senate President Dr. Bukola Saraki who stopped collecting life pension as a former governor of Kwara State and described life pensions by former governors as “immoral”, following a request by SERAP.

“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel you and other members of the Senate to comply with our request in the public interest.

“The country’s international legal obligations especially under the UN Convention against Corruption also impose a legal commitment on public officials including former governors in the Senate to discharge a public duty truthfully and faithfully.

“Life pensions for former governors serving as senators are entirely inconsistent and incompatible with the constitutional oath of office and the object and purpose of the UN Convention against Corruption, which implicitly prohibits large severance benefits for public officials such as former governors.

“The convention specifically in paragraph 1 of article 8 requires you to promote integrity, honesty and responsibility in the management of public resources.”

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