By Simon Ebegbulem
BENIN—CRISIS is brewing at the Edo State Pensions Board, following allegations that some top members of the Board were involved in the registeration of fake names as pensioners to defraud the state government.
It was gathered that the state government might be losing close to N100million monthly to the fraud in the Pension Board. Vanguard learnt that the fraud was exposed last Friday, when a man who disguised as a retired civil servant went to the Civil Service Training School to snap passport photographs to enable him register as a pensioner.
It was said that while he was waiting to be attended to, a file fell from his hands and it was discovered that the name on his identification card was different from what he registered in his form.
While the officials were trying to investigate him, he ran away. However, Vanguard learnt that a top official of the Pensions Board in charge of Auchi area, was arrested over the matter, as he was the one, who allegedly brought the escapee for registration. He was interrogated and detained at the state Government House.
During interrogation, Vanguard was informed that the officer fingered a top official in the Pensions Board in Benin City as the person who instructed him to produce some persons, who would come to pose as retired civil servants to enable them to register.
The plan was that the passport photograph of the fake civil servant would be there but the name that would be registered would bear the name of a dead person or somebody who had even been relieved of his/her appointment.
Vanguard learnt that these officials have defrauded the state government of several millions of naira so far.
The recent revelation is coming few days after Governor Adams Oshiomhole released the sum of N555 million for the payment of pensioners in the state.
However, a former Chairman of the Board, who craved anonymity, said “before now, the Pensions Board prepares the names of pensioners while the office of the Accountant General of the state disburses the funds to the individual.”
But at the tail end of the Lucky Igbinedion’s led administration, they changed the system and only Pension’s Board handles every thing. And in that case, only the officials of the Board over sees every thing and there is no check and balances.
“Those days we use to remit unclaimed pension fund back to the coffers of the state government but now few individuals or you can say the cabal, will pocket the money into their private accounts and that will be it.
And it is sad that because of issues like this that the Governor decided to introduce the Information and Communications Technology (ITC) so as to identify the real workers and pensioners. But yet people are still defrauding government on a daily basis” he stated.