Senate President Bukola Saraki has debunked media reports that he was pressurized to stop his pension as former governor of Kwara State.
Saraki who said he voluntarily stopped his pension, dismissed allegations that agitations by a civil society organisation prompted him to end the payment of his pension.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Yusuph Olaniyonu, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Senate President, the former Kwara State Governor explained that he wrote to the Kwara State Government to stop his pension payment on August 20, 2015.
“As a responsive and responsible government official, the Senate President 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, 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,” Olaniyonu stated.
A civil society organisation, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) had accused former governors of receiving double pay from government.
In the letter dated July 14, 2017 and signed by SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni, the group also sent an open letter to the Attorney-General of the Federation Abubakar Malami, asking him to sue the ex-Governors.
It listed those who currently receive double emoluments and large severance benefits from their states to include: Bukola Saraki (Kwara); Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (Kano); Kabiru Gaya (Kano); Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom); Theodore Orji (Abia); Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa); Sam Egwu (Ebonyi); Shaaba Lafiagi (Kwara); Joshua Dariye (Plateau), and Jonah Jang (Plateau).
Others are: Ahmed Sani Yerima (Zamfara); Danjuma Goje (Gombe); Bukar Abba Ibrahim (Yobe); Adamu Aliero (Kebbi); George Akume (Benue); Biodun Olujimi (Ekiti); Enyinaya Harcourt Abaribe (Abia); Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti); Chris Ngige (Anambra) and Babatunde Fashola (Lagos).
OWEDE AGBAJILEKE, Abuja