By Emman Ovuakporie
The House of Representatives panel probing National Pension Commission, PenCom, yesterday, grilled the management team of the apex regulatory body over alleged missing N38 billion released to it by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
For more than three hours the Ehiozuwa Agbonnayinma (APC, Edo) led ad-hoc committee grilled the management team.
A representative of the acting Director General of Pencom Mr Olohinmi Lana had an uphill task responding to the many questions of the panellists.
Chairman of the committee said that the committee had requested for account statements of the commission, minutes of its 46th board meeting among other documents.
The lawmaker said that the aim of the investigation was to correct the wrongs in the commission and to move the nation forward saying that it was not about a witch-hunt.
He said that many retired officers had died trying to access their benefits many years after retirement.
Agbonayinma said that every officer will grow old and retire one day and if not corrected, the issues of accessing retirement benefits would get more complicated for the aged.
He said that all other parties in the investigation which include the CBN, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, the Head of Service, Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Pension Fund Administrators, PFA, had all provided documents requested for by committee.
According to him, some of the submission contradicts the explanations made by PenCom on the alleged missing N33billion in the cause of the hearing.
The chairman said that the investigation was in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s drive to end corruption in the country.
Ekanem Asuquo (PDP-Akwa-Ibom) accused PenCOM of delaying the investigation by its non-compliance.
He said that the attitude of PenCOM towards the committee would do the country no good as everyone will get old one day.
In his explanations on the alleged missing funds, the Head of Contribution Bond and Redemption Department of PenCom, Mr Loyinmi Lana said that there was a process the funds must follow before it gets to the final stage where the retired gets the benefits.
He said that in some cases, other agencies such as the Office of the Account General of the Federation were involved in the process which should be funded by the Federal Government.
According to him, “At the contribution stage, there is no problem but we have a problem at the Federal Government counterpart funding stage.”
On the failure to present document requested for by the committee, Lana said that there were ambiguities in the letters from the committee.
He said that the committee did not specifically demand account statement but requested for evidence of the commission’s activities within a given period which it complied.
He, however, said that the commission will furnish the committee with every other relevant document requested for April 11.
The House of Representatives had in December 2018 resolved to investigate the activities of PenCom from April 2017 to date