Pension Review Magazine
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) yesterday said allegation that it diverted 222 properties recovered by the Abdurasheed Maina team was not true.
A statement from EFCC spokesman Wilson Uwujaren said, “This sweeping allegation, coming from a Senate Committee is disturbing more so as no attempt was made to verify the information from the Commission.”
He said,”The EFCC was never invited by the committee and given the opportunity to educate it on the status of assets seized from suspected pension thieves; yet the committee was comfortable to scandalize the EFCC with the public disclosure of unverified claims by unknown interests.
“For the avoidance of doubt, there are no 222 properties anywhere that were shared by anybody. The EFCC did not receive a single property from Abdulrasheed Maina. All the pension fraud assets that are in the recovered assets inventory of the commission were products of independent investigation by the EFCC, for which Maina and his cohorts had no clues.”
“If Maina or any government official witnessed the sharing of any recovered pension assets by any official of the EFCC, they should be willing to name the official, the assets involved; when and where the ‘sharing’ took place,” he said.
He further said, “As far as the EFCC is concerned, there is no controversy regarding the status of assets recovered from suspected pension thieves. The records of all the recovered assets from both the Police Pension and the Pension Office of the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation as well as their current status are intact, and have been communicated to the relevant organs of government.”
The Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP) has commended the present administration for its determination to alleviate the suffering of Nigerian pensioners.
The union in a statement signed by its National President, Dr Abel Afolayan and General Secretary, Elder Actor Zal commended PTAD for the payment of six months out of the remaining 18 months arrears of the 33% pension increase to civil pensioners all over the country, six months to all Federal Parastatals pensioners and 12 months to the police pensioners out of the outstanding 30 months.
The union expressed optimism that the remaining balance of 18 months would be paid in earnest.
The statement reads in part: “The union is also grateful to PTAD and its staff for organising one of the most successful verification exercises in the history of Nigerian pensioners and pension industry nationwide, that pensioners across the length and breadth of Nigeria participated in the nationwide exercise without any hitch nor casualty. The programme was well organised at spacious centres in all the state capitals across Nigeria and now we can boastfully say that Nigeria pensioners now have a data base and the era of ghost pensioners on the payroll is now a thing of the past.”
It appealed to the Federal Government to ensure the implementation of the 5-yearly pension review which has been due since July 2015 in line with 1999 constitution, section 173(3), saying the last review of pension was in July 2010.
“Therefore, we demand that pension should be reviewed immediately in line with the provision of the 1999 constitution.
“We appeal that the Federal Government should pay the remaining balance of the 33% increase before Christmas so that our people can have a happy and memorable Christmas celebration,”
The former chairman of the Presidential Pension Reform Team (PPRT) Abdurasheed Maina has challenged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to an open debate on the issue of the N2.1 billion he is alleged to have stolen.
Maina through his lawyer, Sani Katu, said he did not steal N2.1 billion from the pension fund, and challenged the anti-graft agency to meet at an open panel of investigation, saying he would spew out all the details unknowns to Nigerians.
“In 2011 we stopped the stealing of N300 million daily from police pension. Also, in 2011, we stopped the stealing if N1.04 billion monthly from police pension allocations. Same 2011, we were able to stop the yearly stealing of N52.5 billion at the head of service pension. Between 2011 and 2012 the PRTT recovered cash and asset worth N1.63 trillion which has been with the EFCC,” he said, adding that those recoveries and more belonged to Nigerians who needed to know their whereabouts.
The lawyer said Maina was shot at and dismissed by the pension cabal, and that the 7th Senate asked for his head. “He approached the high court and got judgement and is now being accused of N2.1bn which is not even .000001% of what Maina is supposed to be paid by government,” he said, adding, “They want to take our attention away from all these recoveries because they have repeatedly failed to account for them.”
No fewer than 3,000 retired primary school teachers, under the umbrella of the National Union of Pensioners (NUP) in Oyo State yesterday protested non-payment of their 17-56 months pension arrears.
The aged members of the union marched from the Yidi Area office of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in Agodi Gate to the NTA Ibadan Complex where they converged before they proceeded to the Governor’s office.
The Deputy Governor of the state, Chief Moses Alake Adeyemo, in company of the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Olalekan Alli and some aides of the governor attended to the members of the union.
The deputy governor assured the pensioners of an audience with his boss as soon as he returned to the country.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Oyo State branch of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Mr Waheed Olojede said the leadership of the labour union could not stop the aggrieved retired teachers from protesting the non-payment of their pensions.
According to him, several pleas made to the Oyo State Government to settle the arrears of pensions which runs to between 17- 56 months, had not yielded any tangible result.
Pensioners in Abia State yesterday took to the streets of Umuahia and later blocked the major entrance to Government House to protest what they described as government’s insensitivity to their suffering after they had been owed 20 months arrears of pensions and 18 years of unpaid gratuity.
The pensioners dressed in black attire marched through Aba Road to the Government House from their secretariat on Bende Road about 9am.
Speaking, Chairman of the Abia State Civil/Public Pensioners Association, Chief Dr Emmanuel Okparanta, said contrary to government’s claim, only one month’s pension had been paid since the beginning of the year.
“Even that of February, only few received the alert,” he said.
Okparanta said they had exhausted all avenues of drawing government’s attention, including asking the state House of Assembly to intervene.
He lamented the government failure to key into the pension harmonization from 1999 to 2010, which he said was why some of the pensioners receive as little as N500 monthly.
“We have been dehumanized and subjected to unimaginable suffering and unfulfilled promises by the state government,” he said.
A Nigerian civil war veteran, Private Abubakar Gidado (rtd) has said he has not been receiving pension since his retirement 35 years ago.
Gidado who disclosed this to our reporter, had joined the army in 1968 and retired in 1982. “I served in the civil war under two prominent personalities: TY Danjuma and Benjamin Adekunle and I retired in 1982 and since then I have been waiting for my pension,” he said.
Gidado who is a father of nine, told Pension Review Magazine that the only money he had got from the army after retirement was N2,500 which was his gratuity.
“In November last year I travelled to Lokoja, our Record Office and after three days they retrieved my file and asked me to come back the following morning for verification. The next morning they told me my form 9B was missing, that I had to go to my last posting place, which was Borno, to get it,” he said, adding, “I then came back to Sokoto, made another arrangement and traveled to Borno and got two copies of the forms. When I went back to Lokoja this year they told me that they would not use the forms, that I had to go back to Borno and get the old form, which I could not do because I don’t have money,” he said.
He appealed to President Muhammad Buhari to intervene in his case as life was becoming unbearable for him and his family.