Femi Falana, a prominent human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), has called on the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, and other former governors who have served in both the executive and legislative branches to follow the lead of Gbenga Daniel and Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo by refusing to accept what he calls “illegal pension” payments.
In a statement issued on Sunday, Falana emphasized the need for public servants to abide by court judgments regarding these contentious payments.
A Call for Ethical Stance:
Falana, who also chairs the Alliance on Surviving Covid-19 and Beyond, has been a vocal advocate for ethical and legal governance.
He urged former governors in executive and legislative positions to demonstrate a commitment to legal standards by rejecting pensions they may be receiving.
Compliance with Court Judgments:
The human rights lawyer highlighted the example set by Senators Gbenga Daniel and Ibrahim Dankwambo. He commended these senators for adhering to a court judgment, which led them to request the governors of Ogun and Gombe States to cease paying them pensions.
Questioning Double Payments:
Falana drew attention to the fact that more than 20 former governors in executive and legislative roles currently receive double salaries, suggesting that such practices raise ethical and legal concerns.
Legal Rulings Against Pensions:
The statement referred to two significant court judgments. Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo, in a landmark ruling delivered on November 26, 2019, declared the payment of these pensions illegal and unconstitutional.
The court ordered the Accountant-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to recover life pensions collected by former governors who later became Senators and Ministers.
Similarly, in another case, Justice K. I. Amadi of the National Industrial Court declared the payment of pension and gratuity to former governors and deputy governors null and void, reinforcing the illegality of such payments.
Falana’s Ongoing Advocacy:
Femi Falana has been consistently active in opposing the payment of pensions to ex-governors, particularly those who transition to roles as legislators or federal executive appointees after their gubernatorial tenures.