The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has called on media practitioners in Nigeria, especially journalists, to get their facts correct in reporting issues pertaining to him collection pension from the Kwara State government.
Saraki stated this while debunking claims that he stopped the payment of the pensions in July 2014 due to protests by some group of people.
He said in a statement by Yusuph Olaniyonu, his Special Adviser (Media and Publicity) that “it is important that the Media endeavors to be specific in their reporting and not ascribe needless justifications or commentaries to otherwise independent actions”.
According to him, “on August 20th, 2015, Saraki wrote to the Kwara State Government to stop the payment of his pensions”.
He continued that “As a responsive and responsible government official, the President of the Senate has always toed the moral and legal high-ground in all his actions. This is why since he left office as Kwara State Governor in 2011 — even before his directive that his pension payment be stopped on the 20th of August, 2015 — this pension was always used as a scholarship and education endowment fund from which first-class graduates and law school students have benefitted. The money has also been utilized for the purchase of JAMB and GCE forms for secondary school leavers seeking to further their education..
“Additionally, the decision to stop his pension was done entirely of his own volition two years ago. in fact, Dr. Saraki had at an interactive session with journalists in Ilorin early 2016, he mentioned the action he had taken on the pension. This is why the recent insinuations in the media attributing the Senate President’s actions to a July 14th, 2017 statement by some group, is another futile attempt to claim credit where there is none to be claimed.
“Moving forward, it is necessary that the Media is guided by the fact that irrespective of the payment of his pension or not, the Senate President will continue to work on empowering his constituents and the people in Kwara State, as he has always done, with or without any pension payment.
“At this point, it is important that the Media endeavors to be specific in their reporting and not ascribe needless justifications or commentaries to otherwise independent actions”, Olaniyonu stated.
It would be recalled that a group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), had named Saraki among former state governors it said we’re still collecting remuneration from their respective states, despite presently serving in and also earning renumeration inother government positions.
The group therefore asked the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), to within seven days drag the former governors, presently senators and ministers to court for double salaries.
In a letter to the AGF and Minister of Justice, Malami, SERAP urged him to use his “good offices as a defender of public interest, and exercise your powers under Section 174(1) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), to urgently institute appropriate legal actions to challenge the legality of states’ laws permitting former governors, who are now senators and ministers to enjoy governors’ emoluments while drawing normal salaries and allowances in their new political offices.”
It also requested that the AGF should “seek full recovery of over N40billion of public funds that have so far been received from those involved; and to begin to take these steps within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter, failing which SERAP will institute legal proceedings to compel the discharge of constitutional duty and full compliance with Nigeria’s international anticorruption obligations and commitments.”
A former governor of Ekiti state, and present minister of solid minerals resources, Kayode Fayemi had subsequently threatened to sue SERAP if the group failed to produce evidence that he was indeed collecting such payments.
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