By Joke Adeniyi-Jackson
Human Right Activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria(SAN), Femi Falana has been countered on his call that the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki should relinquish the house built for him by the Kwara State Government.
The house is part of the severance package for Saraki, who served as governor of the state between 2003 and 2011.
The call by the legal luminary came on the heels of the announcement by the Senate President last week that he had stopped receiving pension from the state.
Saraki had said 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.
He was however called out by the prominent lawyer, to do more by giving up the house and to prevail on the other 20 senators who are former governors and deputy-governors to stop further collection of pension from their state governments.
Reacting to the development last night, a former Works and Transport Commissioner in Kwara State, Engr. Kola Shittu, said the call by Falana is inordinate, as the Senate President has not run foul of any existing law.
Shittu stated that until there is an amendment to the law that backs the process; his former boss has not overstepped bounds, saying his benefits as former governor is within the precincts of the law.
He maintained that Saraki cannot be coerced to surrender the house, adding that he could only do it on his volition as done regarding the pension, on moral grounds.
According to him, “The Senate President has not run foul of the law. Whatever the law says applies to him. He is not the only one benefiting from the process.”
The ex-commissioner stressed that instead of making mountain out of molehills, Saraki should be hailed for demonstrating leadership by example.
Recall that the announcement by the senate president that he had stopped collecting pension from the state was greeted by widespread commendation particularly from a civil society organisation, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), that had earlier accused former governors of receiving double pay from government, a development they termed ‘illegal’.