RECENTLY, the Court of Appeal in Abuja described as morally wrong the payment of severance allowances to elected or appointed public office holders.
The court, through its three-man panel led by Justice Abubakar Yahaya, made the declaration in a unanimous judgment.
Justice Emmanuel Agim, who read the lead judgment of the court, said among others, that such payment “cannot be justified in the context of our present social realities. The political appointees and elected public office holders who do not work as long and as hard as career civil servants quickly get paid huge severance allowances upon leaving office, in addition to the huge wealth they acquired while holding such offices and without having been subjected to any contributory pension schemes.
“It is not morally right to pay an elected public officer or political appointee pension and gratuity or severance allowance for holding such an office for three to eight years as the case may be. It cannot be justified in the context of our present social realities; it amounts to gross social injustice.”
It will be recalled that the Court of Appeal delivered the landmark judgment while ruling on an appeal filed by the Governor of Kogi State and three others.
After critically examining the judgment, pensioners in the country have expressed excitement over the judgment.
Speaking through their umbrella body, the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, NUP, they described as “laudable” the judgment which outlaw payment of pension, gratuity and severance allowance to political office holders.
NUP through Mr Bunmi Ogunkolade, Head, Information Unit, called for a refund of all monies already collected.
According to him, “The practice of paying such monies to them is not sustainable and should not be allowed. The NUP is very happy with the judgment outlawing it. NUP wants those concerned to ensure that all monies previously collected by these politicians be refunded to government’s coffers.”
He contended that 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, saying “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.”