In reaction to the court verdict that former Governors who serve as Ministers of Senators are to refund the pensions they must have collected from States, the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) Abubakar Malami said on Thursday that the Federal Government’s compliance with the court’s decision will be guided by public interest.
In a statement signed by minister’s spokesman, Umar Gwandu, Malami said: “We will work and be guided by the legalities of the case, the dictates of justice and public interest in complying with the judgment.”
Recall that a Federal High Court in Lagos ordered the Federal Government to “recover pensions collected by former governors now serving as ministers and members of the National Assembly.
The judgment by Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo, also directed the AGF to challenge the legality of states’ pension laws, “permitting former governors and other ex-public officials to collect such pensions.”
He ordered the AGF to return to court in February 2020 with evidence of compliance with the ruling.
The judgment was an application for an order of mandamus by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).
Justice Oguntoyinbo said: “The Attorney General has argued that the States’ laws duly passed cannot be challenged. With respect, I do not agree with this line of argument by the Attorney General that he cannot challenge the States’ pension laws for former governors.
“The question that comes to mind is: who should approach the Court where a particular law is not in the best interest of Nigeria as a country or National interest? Who should approach the Court where a particular law is detrimental to the interest of the country? Who should institute actions in court for the purpose of recovering public funds collected?
In answering the questions, Justice Oguntoyinbo said: “In my humble view, the Attorney General should be interested in the legality or validity of any law in Nigeria and how such laws affect or will affect Nigerians, being the Chief Law Officer of the Federation.”
Source: NewsTrack Nigeria