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Pencom N8.37trn Probe: Reps panel queries AGF over delayed remittances

•As NLC wants board constituted
•Ag DG insists allegations are unfounded
•We want to protect workers life savings —Panel Chair
•Confusion trails two separate board lists sent by Buhari, Osinbajo to Senate

By Emman Ovuakporie

ABUJA —THE House of Representatives ad-hoc committee probing activities of the apex pension body in Nigeria, Pencom, yesterday, queried the office of the Accountant General to the Government of the Federation over delayed pension remittances by Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs.

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This came to fore at the ongoing probe of activities of the regulatory body by the Ehiozuwa Johnson Agbonayinma-led committee.

The panelists had observed from the submissions made by Pencom that the Accountant General had failed to remit monies for April and May of 2017 and July of 2018.

President of Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, Ayuba Wabba in his brief submission, declared: “There’s need to constitute the board of Pencom without any further delay. As we all can see, the acting management has over stayed as we need a board because there’s no provision in the Act for an acting management.’’

The acting Director General of the commission, Aisha Dahiru Umar, told the panel that all the allegations leveled against them were not correct, stressing that there was no iota of truth in the allegations.

She explained:  “On the allegation that we recruited massively, it’s false, we did not recruit a cleaner and what we did is to promote deputy general managers to directors in 2018.

“On the issue of payment of massive arrears to some top management staff, we only followed the law as stipulated by the tenure system for office holders.

“The Tenure System advocates that no director should stay beyond eight years and what we paid was 300 per cent of their annual income after occupying such office after five years and thereafter, 10 per cent.

“On massive promotion, we followed stipulations of Section 17 of the Pencom Reform Act and it was duly approved by the SGF.’’

A panelist, Benjamin Wayo, PDP, Benue, accused the acting DG of illegally applying Section 17 of the PRA as there was no board to approve such promotions.

“Your action is illegal,’’ Wayo said.

At this stage, chairman of the committee, Ehiozuwa Johnson Agbonayinma, APC, Edo, told the Pencom boss that “from your submission here, there are discrepancies.’’

He said:  “In the month of April and May of 2017, there was no remittance recorded and same thing was replicated in July 2018.

‘’Can you please tell us where this money is domiciled?  And let me quickly remind you that we are here simply to ensure that the pensioners’ money is secured.’’

Responding, the acting DG admitted that she couldn’t confirm location of the remittances but asked the head of contribution to respond.

But Agbonayinma insisted that she must tell the panel as head of the commission but she pleaded for understanding, since the head deals with such matters.

Mr Lam Lohinmi, Head of Contributory Scheme, told the panelists: “Once in a while, it happens but we don’t know where the money is located because it’s usually domiciled at the CBN.  At times, it’s later paid in arrears by the AGF and it’s stated in our submission with you.’’

This explanation didn’t go down well with the panelists who immediately declared that it was an abnormality.

They collectively agreed to look into it in subsequent investigative hearing on the issue.

The panelists demanded for the letter sent by President Muhammadu Buhari to the Senate to confirm board members and the one also sent by acting President Yemi Osinbajo containing a different list.

The adhoc committee chairman, Agbonayinma, asked the Pencom substantive committee chairman, Mohammed Shekarau, to explain what happened in the Senate.

 

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