The Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) has described as “laudable”, a recent Appeal Court judgement which overruled the payment of pension, gratuity and severance allowance to political officeholders.
The Head, Information Unit of the union, Bunmi Ogunkolade, who reacted to the judgement in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Monday in Abuja, called for a refund of all monies already collected.
“The practice of paying such monies to them is not sustainable and should not be allowed. The NUP is very happy with the judgement outlawing it.
“NUP wants those concerned to ensure that all monies previously collected by these politicians be refunded to government’s coffers,” Mr Ogunkolade said.
He said it was not morally right to pay an elected public officer or political appointee pension, gratuity or severance allowance for holding such an office for three to eight years.
According to him, this practice cannot be justified in the context of the nation’s current social realities.
“To even conceive such payment amounts to gross social injustice. For the present administration to be seen as being serious about fighting corruption, it must begin the process of recouping payments already effected,” he said.
NAN recalls that the Court of Appeal recently faulted the payment of either severance allowance, pension or gratuity to political office holders and political appointees, declaring that the practice was “morally wrong”.
A three-member panel of the court held that it was unjustifiable, in the face of the nation’s socio-economic reality, for some few politicians, who held office for not more than eight-years, to allocate huge public funds to themselves in the name of pension and severance packages.
The panel particularly wondered why the politicians should enjoy such packages while civil servants, who committed most of their active years to the service of the nation, were still denied their retirement benefits.
The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja had made the pronouncement while ruling on an appeal filed by the Governor of Kogi State and three others.
The court, in its lead judgment delivered by Justice Emmanuel Agim, declared that it was “wicked and morally wrong for political office holders and political appointees, who helped themselves to public funds while in office, to claim entitlement to pension and severance allowances”.
Justice Agim declared: “I must state here that the claim for payment of severance allowance by those whose tenure has come to an end, is as unfounded as is morally wrong.”