By Chidi Nkwopara
OWERRI—IMO State chapter of Nigeria Union of Pensioners, NUP, has described the state government’s move to recalculate or reduce the pensions of retirees, despite recent judgment of the National Industrial Court, as “insensitive, wicked and unlawful.”
The pensioners, in a press release signed by their state chairman and principal state secretary, Chief James D. Osuigwe and Evangelist Livinus U. Asiegbu respectively, said:
“The union recalls that Imo State Government has only paid gratuities below N500,000 to affected pensioners and refused to pay gratuities above N500,000 since it came to power seven years ago. This is in spite of several bailout funds advanced by the Federal Government, to clear arrears of pensions and gratuities.”
Another nagging issue raised by the senior citizens was that the Rochas Okorocha administration “deliberately avoided harmonising pensions since it came to power seven years ago.”
As a means of substantiating their allegation, the NUP recalled that “government has failed, refused or neglected to pay the six per cent increase of 2003, 15 per cent of 2003 and 33 per cent of 2010, approved by the Federal Government and long implemented by our neighbouring states.
“It is embarrassing that Imo State Government has continued to claim falsely that it has cleared all pension arrears and gratuities owed Imo pensioners,” the union noted.
Going into specifics, the union leaders said that Imo Broadcasting Corporation retirees are owed between 47-59 months, civil service pensioners, 33 months, retired primary school teachers, 43-63 months and Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, 50-90.
“It must be said that the government’s announcement, purporting to remove allowances in pension, amounts to contempt of court and breach of the verdict of the National Industrial Court,” Imo NUP maintained.
Vanguard recalls that part of the court’s judgment read: “There is no law permitting the Imo State Government to alter or withhold any part of the pension of pensioners in the public service of Imo State. The Imo State Government or any of the defendants do not have the authority or power to alter or withhold any part of the pension of any retired civil servant.”