By Olawale Abdul-Fatah
Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, and Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), have hailed the Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo judgment, ordering the Federal Government to recover pensions collected by former governors now serving as ministers and members of the National Assembly.
The reactions were contained in a statement signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, and made available to the Guild on Wednesday.
Falana, while reacting over the judgment, described it as the most patriotic public interest litigation ever undertaken by anyone in the country since independence.
He said: “SERAP deserves the commendation of all well-meaning people that have agonised over the legalization of obscene pension package for former governors.
“This is one of the most patriotic public interest litigation ever undertaken in Nigeria. We call on state governors to use the judgment as to the basis for formally repealing life pension laws and all other retrogressive laws without any further ado,” the human right lawyer added.
Oluwadare, in the statement, noted that the judgement was not a victory for SERAP but for the several millions of Nigerian workers earning their income legitimately.
“This ground-breaking judgment is a victory for Nigerian workers and pensioners who have not been paid by state governors for several months and struggle to make ends meet whilst former governors now serving as ministers and senators continue to collect double emoluments and enjoy opulent lifestyles.”
“Justice Oguntoyinbo’s judgment shows the urgent need for state governors in Nigeria to follow the Zamfara example by immediately abolishing the obnoxious pension laws in their states. We commend Justice Oguntoyinbo for her courage and wisdom, and urge President Muhammadu Buhari and Mr. Malami to immediately obey the court orders.”
“This judgment should catalyse further action from the Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum and Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi to use this judgment to abolish pension law in his own state and make a clear public commitment that the Governors’ Forum under his watch will push all governors and ex-governors to abolish life pensions and return public funds collected by them before being compelled to do so”.