AGF Malami Faces Contempt Suit for Failure to Recover Over N40 Billion in Double Pay and Life Pensions

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a contempt suit against the Federal Government and Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, for not recovering over N40 billion in double pay and life pensions from former governors currently serving as lawmakers and ministers.

AGF Malami Faces Contempt Suit for Failure to Recover Over N40 Billion in Double Pay and Life Pensions
Abubakar Malami

In November 2019, Justice Oguntoyinbo of the Federal High Court in Lagos ordered the Federal Government to recover life pensions collected by former governors serving as ministers and members of the National Assembly. The judge also directed Mr. Malami to challenge the legality of states’ life pension laws permitting former governors and other ex-public officials to collect such pensions.

Despite the court order, President Muhammadu Buhari’s government has not implemented the judgement. Last month, during a valedictory court session held in her honor, Justice Oguntoyinbo, who recently retired from the bench, expressed disappointment and regret over the non-implementation of the judgement.

To enforce the judgement, SERAP filed a Form 48 contempt suit at the Federal High Court in Lagos last Friday. The organization claims that a certified true copy of the judgement from November 26, 2019, has long been served on Mr. Malami. The notice of consequence of disobedience of court orders in Form 48 reads in part: “Unless you obey the orders of the court contained on the reverse side of this process, you shall be deemed to have disobeyed the orders of the court and shall be liable to be committed to prison for contempt.”

In a statement dated May 7, 2023, and signed by SERAP deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization asserts that it is unacceptable for the government to routinely ignore and/or fail to abide by court orders. The statement reads in part, “A democratic state based on the rule of law cannot exist or function if the government routinely ignores and/or fails to abide by court orders.”

The Buhari administration has reportedly failed or refused to obey the judgement, despite being served the certified true copy. SERAP points out that while many Nigerian workers and pensioners have not been paid by state governors for several months and struggle to make ends meet, former governors continue to collect double emoluments and enjoy opulent lifestyles.

In July 2017, SERAP requested Mr. Malami to institute appropriate legal action to challenge the legality of state laws allowing former governors to enjoy life pensions while drawing normal salaries and allowances in their new political offices, and to fully recover public funds from those involved.

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