A sustained legal battle may be in the offing as ex-governors in the Senate are said to have concluded arrangements to challenge the court order on the refund of pensions received by them.
The ex-governors, who appeared to be jittery over the court order, are said to be determined to overturn the order.
One of the ex-governors, who volunteered to speak on the matter on condition of anonymity, told our reporters that the last had not been heard on the matter.
He insisted that it seemed that there is more to the court order than meet the eye.
He wondered why former governors were being targeted when there are other retired public officers who had served and also received pensions.
A Federal High Court in Lagos had ordered the Federal Government to recover pensions collected by former governors now serving as ministers and members of the National Assembly.
The court also directed the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, to challenge the legality of states’ pension laws permitting former governors and other ex-public officials to collect such pensions.
The ex-governor said: “Nobody really wants to talk about the court order on retrieval of paid pensions.
“There is certainly more to it. Why are we being targeted? There are retired military officers and other public servants who were in government and also received pensions. Why is it being made to look as if we paid ourselves?
“Some of us have made up our minds to explore further legal alternative to challenge the order. It can’t be left unchallenged because we did not pay ourselves.
He continued: “The law that grants us pensions as ex-governors is a valid law of the states. The law, as far as I am concerned, subsists. Nobody has challenged the law in any state and it would be against the constitution for the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice or any other person for that matter to attempt to tamper or reverse a state law without due process.
“Are we no longer operating a federal system of government?” he asked.
“The constitution has granted the three tiers of government their specific roles. The AGF cannot afford to breach that section of the grund norm that grants the State Assembly power to make laws for the state, court order or no court order.
“I think the judgment of the Federal High Court did not take into consideration the fact that the order would violate the principle of federalism as enshrined in the constitution.
“We are waiting for the AGF to ask for the refund as directed. We shall ask the AGF to also go and collect what ex-members of the armed forces, police and paramilitary agencies who served in public offices after retirement have collected as pensions.”
It could be recalled that Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo of the Federal High Court in Lagos made the order following an application by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).
According to the SERAP in its letter to the AGF Malami, “those who reportedly receive double emoluments and large severance benefits from their states include: Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (Kano); Kabiru Gaya (Kano); Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom); Theodore Orji (Abia); Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa); Sam Egwu (Ebonyi); Shaaba Lafiagi (Kwara); Joshua Dariye (Plateau) and Jonah Jang (Plateau).
“Others include: Ahmed Sani Yerima (Zamfara); Danjuma Goje (Gombe); Bukar Abba Ibrahim (Yobe); Adamu Aliero (Kebbi); George Akume (Benue); and Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers).”
However, while Kwankwaso, Lafiaji, Jang, Yerima, Bukar and Dariye are no more in the Senate, Akpabio, Akume and Amaechi (former Speaker and ex-Governor of Rivers State) are serving ministers.