By Abiodun Esan
The Secretary to Kwara State Government (SSG), Alhaji Isiaka Gold, on Wednesday said Senate President, Bukola Saraki has returned all monies paid to him as pension back to the coffers of the state government.
The SSG made this known on Wednesday in Ilorin in a press statement issued to clarify the issue of Saraki’s pension being paid by the state government.
According to him, Saraki, who was a two-term governor of the state, has stopped receiving pension from the state since August 2015.
The SSG did not state how much was returned to government coffers, but said a letter dated Aug 20, 2015 by the Senate President also directed that money credited to his account for pension be refunded to the government.
“Dr Saraki requested that the payment of pension to his account be stopped and the amount already credited to the account be refunded to the Government, the State Government promptly complied.
“The Government not only stopped the payment of the said pension, the amount already paid into Dr Saraki’s account since he left office was deducted from the money owed to him as well as his other outstanding lawful entitlements,” Gold added.
According to him, Saraki is entitled to the money he returned as provided in the third schedule, Paragraph D (i) of the Governor and Deputy Governor ((payment of pension) Law, No. 12 of 2010 of Kwara State.
He said that apart from Saraki, other former governors and their deputies were entitled to pension as provided by the law.
“It should be noted that neither the Kwara State Government nor Dr Bukola Saraki violated the state pension law or any other law for that matter.
“The State Pension Law empowers the State Government to pay pension to former Governors of the State,” Gold stressed.
The SSG said the Senate President should be commended for his decision to abandon his legal entitlements.
“It is the hope of the state government that this clarification will end all the controversy about this issue,” he added.
Saraki had earlier told NAN that he stopped collecting pension in Kwara state, where he was the governor between 2003 and 2011.
He said, on the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja, that he wrote a letter to the state government to stop the payment of the pension.
According to Saraki, the move was sequel to complaints from some quarters that former governors who are currently senators or ministers were receiving pension and salary in their new jobs, all from the government.
A civil society organisation, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), had accused the former governors of receiving double pay from government, and said it was illegal.