…As Pensioners protest unpaid benefits
THE growing intolerance by Security operatives attached to the Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team, PRTT, Alhaji Abdulrahman Maina, journalists, taken a dangerous twist as they have resorted to physical attacks on pressmen.
In fact, some journalists Tuesday got more than what they bargain for at the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation, when one of the security operative attached to Alhaji Maina pounced on them in the course of their duty.
Specifically, one of them in Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, uniform with a name tag bearing “Akinmodiro” had physically assaulted Pastor Joshua of Leadership Newspaper, for attempting to write his name.
He held Joshua by the wrist and forcefully pulled off his watch in the ensuing scuffle.
Pastor Joshua and other journalists had earlier on informed Akinmodiro that they wanted to speak with Maina over allegations by protesting pensioners that the PRTT Chairman had denied them access to his office to express their grievances over alleged maltreatment they had been exposed to since they retired from service.
The security operative denied the newsmen access into the office of PRTT despite proper identification.
All entreaties to Akinmodiro to either allow the journalists access or inform officials of the PRTT of their presence fell on deaf ears.
It was at this stage that Pastor Joshua attempted to copy Akinmodiro’s name but got a raw deal as he was descended on and rough-handled by the security operative.
Akinmodiro also attempted to attack other reporters who recorded the incident by video.
The incident led to a heated verbal exchange between the journalists and security operatives attached to office of PRTT Chairman.
Earlier on scores of the pensioners had under the umbrella body of Federal Civil Service Pensioners Sector, Abuja -a unit of Nigeria Union of Pensioners, NUP, besieged the Office of the Head of Service demanding payment of their benefits.
They also displayed placards with several inscriptions such “Previous and present pension administrators and managers are worse than armed robbers”; “Head of Service, please save the soul of the elderly”; “Pay us all our outstanding arrears without delay”.
In a letter addressed to the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, by the Secretary of the Sector Comrade Clement Ogunrinde, the retirees said “All we want is an immediate solution where pensioners would be paid today. We are dying by the day.
Some of us are partially alive, sick, hungry and devastated. Where is conscience of the nation which your office represents when elder statesmen and women are dying in this man-made format after serving this nation while earning stipends?”
“It is disheartening to hear on air that pensioners have been paid yet this is far from the truth. The Pension Department at the Office of Head of the Civil Service of the Federation has used all that would have been used to alleviate the suffering of pensioners to go into public relations jamboree and shadow-fighting.”
When contacted over the development, Mr Tope Ajakaiye, the Deputy Director in-charge of Press and Public Relations at the Head of Service of the Federation, referred newsmen to the Office of the PRTT Chairman whom he said was responsible for addressing all issues relating to the plight of the protesting pensioners.