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21 Jan 2018

SERAP has right to stop double pay, pensions for Akpabio, Amaechi, others’ – Court affirms

Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo of the Federal High Court, Lagos has ruled that Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has sufficient interest to bring its suit to stop former governors and now serving senators and ministers from receiving double pay and life pensions.
She gave the ruling weekend while granting leave in the suit number FHC/L/CS/1497/17 filed last year by SERAP to compel the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN to challenge the legality of states’ laws that allow former governors who are now senators and ministers to enjoy governors’ emoluments while drawing normal salaries and allowances in their new political offices and to identify those involved and seek full recovery of public funds from them to the tune of over N40bn.
In a considered ruling granting leave to apply for Judicial Relief, Justice Oguntoyinbo held that, “SERAP cannot be considered a meddlesome interloper or busybody in seeking to stop double pay and life pensions for former governors”, emphasising that all that mattered was for SERAP to show “sufficient interest in the application for leave to apply for an order of mandamus.”
Extensively reviewing and relying on Order 34, Rules 1(1) a, 2, Rule 3 (1) and (2) of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2009, and quoting from several Supreme Court Judgments, Justice Oguntoyinbo insisted that, “the court shall not grant leave in mandamus application unless it considers that the applicant has sufficient interest in the matter to which the application relates.”
While stating that she was, “mindful of the fact that in an application of this nature, the judge should not delve into the substance of the main issue”, she however ruled that “having reviewed the papers filed by SERAP, the court is satisfied that the organization has met the criteria set by the Rules of the Court, and as such does not consider SERAP a meddlesome interloper.”
Justice Oguntoyinbo’s ruling followed the hearing of an argument in court on exparte application by SERAP counsel, Timothy Adewale. The case is adjourned to 22 March, 2018 for the hearing of arguments on the motion on notice.
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