Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio, and Speaker of the state’s rubber stamp assembly, Sam Ikon, lied about the intent and status of the state’s scandalous pension law, PREMIUM TIMES investigation has shown.
The duo have in several forums tried to explain away the dubious and profligate law that would make Mr. Akpabio and other ex-governors enjoy an obscene lifetime luxury at the expense of the poor masses of the state.
Among other things, Mr. Akpabio, claimed the new law is an amendment to the 2006 law, which was passed by his predecessor, Victor Attah.
This was reiterated by Mr. Ikon, who said that the passage of the law was a patriotic duty exercised to uphold the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, show respect for public trust and to protect public funds.
The speaker, who is widely known to be Mr. Akpabio’s stooge, also insisted that the Governors and Deputy Governors Pension Law 2014, was an amendment to a similar law passed in 2006.
When these statements were subjected to tests on the basis of fact and truth, PREMIUM TIMES found that they were lacking in both.
Samson Osagie, the Minority Whip in the House of Representatives, who has paid keen attention to the matter, also told this newspaper the Akwa Ibom Governors and Deputy Governors Pension Law 2014 is a fresh legislation.
Mr. Osagie, who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES on the telephone, argued that whenever any legislature body is amending an existing law, it is clearly stated in the heading.
He said, “It is often stated in capital letters in the caption of the bill. The title of the bill must carry an amendment in order to show that the new act that will come out will be an amendment to an existing law.
“It must also show in the body of the bill which section of the existing law it seeks to amend. In other words, in the marginal notes, the particular section to be amended must be clearly stated.
“In which case, the entire product of that exercise will be regarded as an amendment to an existing Act and the sections amended will take precedence over an existing Act.”
Mr. Osagie, however, said that what was sent to the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly was a new bill and not an amendment as the public was made to believe.
A former member of the House of Representatives, Chononyere Macebuh, expressed disgust over the lies peddled by the two politicians in Akwa Ibom State.
Mr. Macebuh, who was fielding questions from PREMIUM TIMES, said that if the bill was meant to amend an existing law, it would have read, “Governors and Deputy Governors Pension (Amendment) Bill, 2014.
He also drew attention to the long title of the bill which read, “A Law to provide for the grant of pensions and other benefits to elected former Governors and Deputy Governors and for other matters related therewith.”
The former lawmaker insisted that the long title of the bill and the provision on Section 4 clearly showed that the bill was not intended to amend the 2006 law but to enact a brand new legislation.
Continuing, Mr. Macebuh said, “Looking at the copy of the bill I have seen and have cause to believe it is a genuine copy, there is a provision repealing the old law. If you have repealed the old law, then an amendment doesn’t exist.
“Any other thing that is made to address the issues similar to what the 2006 law addressed is a new law entirely. This is a new law. The old law is no longer in existence and so there is nothing to amend. You cannot have something that doesn’t exist to amend.
“If you want the 2006 law to be amended you must clearly indicate the sections of the old law to be amended. The old law will still be effective and still cited.
On the claim by some that the state assembly did not subject the bill to public hearing; Mr. Macebuh argued that not every law is put to public hearing.
“But since the law attracted so much public interest, I think it should have been worth the while to subject it to public hearing,” he said.