Law News
Court hears suit against govs’ pension laws today

A Federal High Court in Abuja will on Wednesday (today) hear a suit challenging the various laws enacted by some state Houses of Assembly prescribing pension for former governors and their deputies.
It was learnt on Tuesday that the defendants in the suit had filed notices of preliminary objection to the suit and the motions would come up for hearing before Justice Ahmed Mohammed on Wednesday.
Thirty-six non-governmental organisations in the country and two activists – Ayodeji Kolawole and Tunde Asaju – jointly filed the suit through their counsel, Mr. Chino Obiagwu, on July 15, 2014.
The NGOs sued 78 defendants, made up of the 36 states of the federation and their respective Houses of Assembly, as well as the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission.
The plaintiffs, in their statement of claim, argue that the state Houses of Assembly lacked the legislative competence to enact pension laws for public officials when the constitution has conferred the exclusive power of setting the remuneration of public officials on the RMAFC.
They add that state governors, their deputies and other public officials are not entitled to pension as their retirement benefits are already part of the remunerations being paid to them while in office.
Apart from seeking an order nullifying the various pension laws, the plaintiffs also want the court to order the 36 state governors to recover from former governors and their deputies what they have received in excess of the amounts stipulated by RMAFC as pension.
According to the plaintiffs, the pension laws have been enacted in Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Benue, Gombe, Kwara, Kogi, Oyo and Lagos states, while the other 29 states are either yet to release theirs to the public or planning to enact similar law.
In his written submission, Obiagwu stated, “The plaintiffs are respectfully seeking the orders of your Lordship to nullify various state laws stipulating pension and other remuneration for governors and deputy governors.
“The basis of the submission is that the 1999 constitution has given the 74th defendant (RMAFC) the exclusive power to set the remuneration of such public officials.
“Pension is part of the remuneration of a public officer. Therefore, any state law that stipulates pension of such public official already covered by the constitutional mandate of the 74th defendant is ultra vires, null and void.”
The plaintiffs are seeking, among others, “a declaration that the pension of a governor and deputy governor of a state is a “remuneration of a public office holder” in terms of Section 32 (d) of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution and “condition and welfare of labour” in terms of Item 34 of Part 1 Second Schedule to the 1999 Constitution.
“An order nullifying the said Governors and Deputy Governors Pension Law 2014 of Akwa Ibom State, Lagos State Governor and Deputy Governor Pensions Law of 2007, Rivers State Pensions for Governor and Deputy Governor Law of 2012, Oyo State Pension (Governor and Deputy Governor) Law 2004, Governor and Deputy Governor (Payment of Pension) Law No 12 of Kwara State 2010, or any other such law enacted by any of the 37th to 72nd defendants stipulating the pension of any of the 1st to 36th defendants for being contrary to Sections 1(3) and 4(2) of the 1999 Constitution and therefore is ultra vires, null and void.
“An order directing the 1st to 36th (serving governors) defendants to recover forthwith from any former Governor or former Deputy Governor any pension payment or out of office benefit paid or delivered to such former public officer beyond the remuneration stipulated by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission Act.”
Some of the plaintiffs are the Human Development Initiatives, Media Rights Agenda, Enough is Enough Nigeria, Human Rights and Human Rights Law, Socio-Economic Rights Initiative, Social Watch Initiative, Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre, Legal Resources Consortium, and Legal Defence and Assistance Project.

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