The Kwara State Government on Wednesday doused the tension over the claim that the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, was still collecting pension while he is simultaneously drawing salary as a lawmaker.
The state government, in a statement, on Wednesday said Saraki had not only stopped collecting pension but had also returned all money paid to him as a former governor of the state.
It added that Saraki had stopped collecting the money since August 2015 and had returned all he collected prior to that time
In a statement issued in Ilorin by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alhaji Isiaka Gold, the state government said it was important to make the clarification against the backdrop of the controversy that greeted the payment and stoppage of pension of Saraki as a former governor of the state.
Gold said it was Saraki who considered the morality the situation would put him, “since he was still a serving senator and chose to abandon his legal rights,” adding that he should be commended for the decision.”
The statement reads: “The attention of Kwara State Government has been drawn to issues surrounding the payment of pensions to former governors of the state, especially the Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki. As a result, the state government wishes to make the following clarifications:
“That Saraki, as a two-term governor, is entitled to pension as stipulated by the third schedule, Paragraph D (i) of the Governor and Deputy Governor ((payment of pension) Law, No. 12 of 2010 of Kwara State.
“That the said pension has been duly remitted to his account, like other former governors’, since he left office but via a letter dated August 20, 2015, addressed to the state government, Saraki requested that the payment of pension to his account be stopped and the amount already credited to the account be refunded to the government, the state government promptly complied
“That the government not only stopped the payment of the said pension, the amount already paid into Saraki’s account since he left office was deducted from the money owed to him as well as his other outstanding lawful entitlements.
“In view of the foregoing, it should be noted that neither the Kwara State Government nor Saraki violated the state pension law or any other law for that matter. The state pension law empowers the state government to pay pension to former governors of the state.
“That the state government will want to reiterate the fact that it was Saraki who on his own volition considered the morality of the situation in which the pension would put him since he is still a serving senator and chose to abandon his legal rights. We believe he should be commended for decision.
“That it is the hope of the state government that this clarification will end all the controversy about this issue.”
Meanwhile, an Ilorin-based socio-political group, Kwara Agenda, has accused a Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), of being in habit of accusing others while also covering his own deals.
In a statement issued in Ilorin, signed by its Coordinator, Mallam Yusuf Olatunji, and made available to journalists on Wednesday, the group said it noted that the legal luminary, Falana, had been very loud about the issue of payment of pension to former governors which the Senate President, is entitled to by law but he has on his volition abandoned the entitlement.
“It is easy for people like Falana to grandstand and play to the gallery by issuing statements accusing others and making demands on others. However, our position is that he who goes to equity must go with clean hands. You cannot demand probity and accountability from others while you hide some information about your transactions and financial dealings, particularly since a government agency or commission is being alleged to have been involved.”
He added: “Let it also be noted by all and sundry that the said pension was legitimately paid to Saraki and it was his personal decision to stop the payment of the money. The government has equally stopped the payment. Saraki did not need to stop the payment since the law allowed it. He took a moral decision to stop the payment of the money into his account.
“Somebody like Falana should simply commend Saraki for his responsive and responsible action. Saraki has demonstrated leadership that others should follow. He deserves praise not the kind of negative response by Falana,” the group explained.