By Angela Atabo
Popular rights group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has threatened to take legal action to compel government to recover the more than N40 billion so far received by ex-governors currently serving as senators and ministers.
In a statement by its Executive Director, Mr Adetokunbo Mumuni, on Sunday, SERAP said the politicians were already enjoying pensions and other privileges and ought not to receive further emoluments from the federal government.
Mumuni said that letters have been dispatched to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, to initiate steps to recover the money.
“We urged Malami to urgently institute appropriate legal actions to challenge the legality of states’ laws permitting former governors currently serving as senators and ministers to enjoy serving governors’ emoluments as pensions.”
The organization, he said, was concerned that many serving senators and ministers were receiving salaries and life pensions running into billions of naira from states that were currently unwilling or unable to pay workers’ salaries.
He said that double emolument and large severance benefits for former governors now serving public officials constituted a blatant betrayal of public trust.
“We are urging you to use your good offices as a defender of public interest, and exercise your powers under Section 174(1) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
“This is for you to urgently institute appropriate legal actions to challenge the legality of states’ laws permitting former governors, who are now senators and ministers to enjoy governors’ emoluments while drawing normal salaries and allowances in their new political offices.
“SERAP is also asking you to seek full recovery of over N40bn of public funds that have so far been received from those involved.
“We want you to begin to take these steps within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter.’’
The group, he warned, would institute legal proceedings to compel the discharge of constitutional duty and full compliance with Nigeria’s international anti-corruption obligations and commitments.