BY KINGSLEY OMONOBI
A new helmsman has taken over at the headquarters of the military pension’s board in Abuja . He is Rear Admiral Bala Mohammed Mshelia. He took over from Major General BVT Kwaji, who is currently on annual leave.
Admiral Mshelia who hails from Borno state was until his new appointment, the Commander, Nigeria Navy Central Pay office, Apapa.
He has served as the Deputy Defence Adviser, New York , USA and Commanding Officer, Nigeria Navy Finance Logistics School , Owerrinta, Abia state.
He is the second Nigeria Navy officer to assume the chairmanship of the MPB, after Rear Admiral Mike Onah (rtd).
Speaking after resuming duties, Admiral Mshelia, announced that the notorious issue of ghost pensioners which led to the loss of hundreds of millions of naira through fraudulent means at the MPB, had been eliminated with the introduction of the biometrics into data and verification of ex-soldiers by the board.
With the elimination of ghost pensioners syndrome, however, a new challenge of attempts at infiltrating the MPB by foreign collaborators through the use of fake documents to deceive the board into parting away with large sums of money through fraudulent means has been uncovered.
Mshelia explained that having discovered the fraud, new measures “are being put in place through checks and balances in house, to stop these foreign infiltrators. Please help us warn these infiltrators to stop these act in their own interest or they will be arrested, handed over to the police and prosecuted.”
Another issue he raised was that of the payment of pensions to next of kin of deceased officers, pointing out that the “days whereby a pensioner dies and his family continues to collect pensions without the knowledge of the board, are over.
According to him, “We are putting some checks and balances in house to check incidences of dead pensioners who may have passed on lets say by February after verification by December, and the family rather that report to the board continues to collect the pension until December of the next year when another verification exposes them”.
On ghost pensioners, he said, “It is stupid, degrading, and embarrassing for any officer that wears this military uniform to degenerate to the level of conniving to defraud on the basis of ghost workers.
As long as I am here, no fraudster will succeed to benefit from the system. My predecessor carried out internal cleansing and put structures in place to checkmate these shortcomings. Our only problem is the infiltrators from outside”.