A Federal High Court in Abuja will today commence hearing in a suit challenging the laws enacted by the various State Houses of Assembly, okaying pension for former governors and their deputies in some states across the country.
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 today.
Some non-governmental organisations and two activists, Ayodeji Kolawole and Tunde Asaju, jointly filed their suit through their lawyer, chief. Chino Obiagwu, on July 15, 2014.
They sued 78 defendants among the governors of the 36 states of the federation and their Houses of Assembly, respectively.
The two other defendants are the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission.
The plaintiffs argue that the state Houses of Assembly lack the legislative competence to enact pension laws for public officials when the constitution has conferred on the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, the exclusive power of setting the remuneration of public officials.
The plaintiffs add that 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.
They are 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 deputy governors, 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 yet to release theirs to the public or planning to enact similar law.
“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 officials 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.
The plaintiffs are 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, Legal Defence and Assistance Project.

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