Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a suit asking the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court to stop payment of life pension to former chairmen and speakers of Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC).
Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP’s Deputy Director, who disclosed this in a statement on Sunday, said that the organisation also wanted the court to declare the Life Pension Law, 2019, passed by AMAC null and void.
Oluwadare added that SERAP also wanted the court to stop AMAC, its chairman; deputy chairman; speaker; the entire legislature and their agents from paying life pensions to former officials, and ultimately, to themselves under the edict/law.
“SERAP is also seeking an order to direct and compel AMAC, its chairman; deputy chairman, speaker and the legislature to recover all previous payments made under the AMAC life pension edict/law from those who had already collected pensions.
“They are to return same to the coffers of the council so that the public funds can be spent to provide public goods and services for residents.
“The AMAC edict granting life pensions to ex-officials is a blatant usurpation of the constitutional powers of the National Assembly. Unless stopped, AMAC and its officials will spend millions and ultimately, billions of taxpayers’ money on life pensions.
“The council’s funds should be spent to address the poor state of basic amenities and deficits in educational institutions, primary healthcare facilities, potable water, sanitation and infrastructural needs of the residents within the council area.” he said.
Oluwadare said that the suit followed SERAP’s open letter, dated Oct. 11, 2019, to Mr Abdullahi Candido, Chairman of AMAC, urging him to urgently withdraw and revoke the edict for the unconstitutional and illegal payment of life pensions.
According to him, the court should exercise its inherent and statutory powers to defend the sanctity of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), hold that the AMAC pension edict is unconstitutional and stop any payment of pensions under the said edict.
He said that unless the reliefs sought were granted, AMAC and its officials would continue to use the pension edict for personal gain, in breach of constitutional provisions, and at the expense of the people and residents of council area.
Oluwadare said that SERAP believed that only the National Assembly had the power to make laws on pension under the constitution, adding that AMAC and its officials went beyond the scope of their constitutional powers.
“AMAC and its officials ought to exercise their public functions for the purposes of providing public goods and services to the people of Abuja and not to grant personal benefits for past officials.
“AMAC and its officials are constitutionally and statutorily obliged to act in the public interest,” he said
Oluwadare, however, said that no date had been fixed for the hearing of the suit.