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S-East pensioners demand upward review of pensions

Blood of dead Imo pensioners not on my head — Okorocha

Claims he discovered N650m pension fraud

By Enyim Enyim & Chinonso Alozie

Owerri—Pensioners in the South East have called on the National Assembly to legislate on minimum pensions with a view to reviewing it upwards alongside workers minimum wage being presently considered.

This is even as Governor Rochas Okorocha said the death of some pensioners in Imo state, while waiting for their pension, was not of his own making.

Rising from the South East zonal forum of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners held in Awka, the pensioners also demanded that the presidency should cause immediate probe and recovery of all the monies released for the payment of pensions and gratuities during  the present economic recession.

In a 13-paragraph communique signed by the zonal chairman, Comrade C.N. Udensi and his secretary, Evangelist Livinus U. Asiegbu, the forum decried the 84 months arrears of pensions owed pensioners by the Imo State government.

“The meeting decried the embezzlement and diversion of huge monthly allocations of bail-out funds and Paris Club refunds provided for the payment of arrears of pensions and gratuities and requested the Federal Government to conduct thorough probe on the disbursement of these funds.

“Members frowned at the refusal of state governments to harmonize pension increases of 6% of 2003, 15%  of 2007 and 33% 0f 2010, inspite of the hyper-inflation of over 17% in the country.”

Speaking earlier, the host state chairman of NUP Anambra State Council, Dr. Anthony Ugozor told the forum that  the 2015 and 2016 arrears of gratuity of local government staff pensioners and primary school pensioners were being gradually liquidated by Governor Willie Obiano.

“ At present, the sum of N6, 121, 656,702.34 which is the share Anambra State received from Paris Club refund will go a long way to offset the problems of labour in the state.”

The head of service who was represented by the acting director, Industrial Relations/Reforms, Mrs. Ify Onyenwe assured the pensioners that government was committed to their plight.

She appealed to them to continue to sustain their patience as government was working hard towards solving the present  issue of harmonization and other issues.

Blood of dead Imo pensioners not on my head — Okorocha

In a release yesterday,  Governor Okorocha  claimed that he discovered N650 million pension cheque fraud and that thirty persons had been arrested in connection with the fraud.

The release stated: “About thirty (30) Pension Board Staff have been handed over to the personnel of Department of State Services (DSS) over monumental fraud detected  in pension cheques, amounting to N650 million naira. The cheques in question are 92 with some of them containing N10 million and above.”

He went further to say: “It was discovered that one person could have three or four cheques written in his or her name and most of the names are non-pensioners and the amounts in the cheques are all in millions, prompting the governor to summon a meeting after  preliminary investigation with the key Pension Board Staff in attendance, and pensioners from the eight designated Local Governments for payment.”

Okorocha noted  before handing over the suspected Pension Board Staff to security agents, ” that the blood of pensioners who had died without their pensions would be on their heads.”

He added that, “Some of the Senior Pension Board Staff involved have hotels in Owerri, Aba and Delta State, while two of them have housing estates.”

He  said they would be made to face the full wrath of the law.

 


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