Pension funds: SERAP set to sue Buhari, 36 state governors

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The Socio-Economic Rights And Accountability Project (SERAP) says it will institute a lawsuit within the next 14 days against President Muhammadu Buhari and the 36 state governors over the states’ move to borrow N17 billion from the pension funds.

The civil society organisation stated this in a tweet on Tuesday.

“We’re preparing court papers to sue President Buhari and 36 state governors over the unlawful proposal by the governors to borrow from the pension funds,” SERAP stated.

It enjoined Nigerians interested in being joined as co-applicants in the suit to indicate interest.

The announcement came two days after SERAP wrote a letter to President Buhari urging him to use his “good offices and leadership position to urgently instruct the Director-General and Board of the National Pension Commission (NPC) to use their statutory powers to stop the 36 state governors from borrowing and/or withdrawing N17 trillion from the pension funds purportedly for ‘infrastructural development.’”

The governors last week reportedly proposed to borrow around N17 trillion from the pension funds after receiving a briefing from the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, who is the Chairman of the National Economic Council Ad Hoc Committee on Leveraging Portion of Accumulated Pension Funds for Investment in the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA).

But in its letter dated December 5, and signed by SERAP Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “Allowing the governors to borrow from pension funds would be detrimental to the interest of the beneficiaries of the funds, especially given the vulnerability of pension funds to corruption in Nigeria, and the transparency and accountability deficits in several states.

“It is patently unjust and contrary to the letter and spirit of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended), the Pension Reform Act, and the country’s international anti-corruption and human rights obligations for the Federal Government and state governors to repeatedly target pension funds as an escape route from years of corruption and mismanagement in ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).”

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