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Widow of AirForce personnel ejected from barracks without husband’s gratuity

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•Sleeps in front of Air Force base with children
•She’s been paid —Air Force

By Evelyn Usman

The sight of a woman and one of her sons on a wheel chair in front of the Logistic Command of the Nigerian Airforce , at PWD, along the Agege motor road, Lagos, would pass for beggars to any passer-by. But they are not. Rather, they are family members of late Benedeth Edoh Nku, a Master Warrant Officer in The Nigerian AirForce.

•Mrs Felicia Nku sleeping in the cold

His family had looked forward with great expectation to his retirement from the Nigerian Airforce last year. But that was not to be as he died two years ago, after a protracted illness, having served for 34 years.

His death, saddled his widow, Mrs Felicia Nku, with the sole responsibility of taking care of their six children, all boys. Since then, the widow said she had been managing with the help of relatives and friends to eke a living.

Just as the family was smarting from the demise of its breadwinner and hoped to collect his gratuity, another incident which reminded them of his demise occurred last Saturday.

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My ordeal

The widow, a farmer, left for the farm as usual, when some men according to her, came to inform her that her attention was needed at home. On arrival, a crowd, among whom was the block leader, gathered in front of her apartment on Block S4 room 4.

She said, “To my surprise, they started packing my luggage out of the house. That was how we were forcefully ejected. Even when I said they had no right to do so because we were yet to get my late husband’s gratuity, they would not listen.

My husband died on November 10, 2017, having spent 34 years in the Airforce. My son who is the next- of- kin is yet to be paid his gratuity. We only got his cooperative money which was N1.2 million; burial money, N400,000; visiting money N300,000 and his three months salary in-lieu, N750,000. We were awaiting his gratuity before moving out of the barracks when this forceful eviction happened.

“Now, we have no place to go. Since last Saturday, I and my children have been sleeping in the cold. I am appealing to the Air Force authority to pay my husband’s gratuity so as to use it to rent an apartment”.

Allegation

When asked why they were evicted, the mother of six said that one of her sons was accused of stealing a television. She explained that her son told her that the television was brought to him to sell, only for the matter to be reported to the Provost who ordered his arrest.

She said, “The boy that brought the television to my son has absconded, his father is a serving Air Force personnel, but nothing has been done to bring him to answer questions on the television. My son was bound, snapped and handed over to the Police at Shogunle division. Does that warrant my being evicted since he has been arrested?

“Since my husband died, I have been managing to take care of these children. One of them is bed ridden. At the moment, things are so hard that I can barely feed them.

Before now, I used to plant pumpkin to sell but I don’t have any in the farm. What crime did I commit to warrant this ill-treatment?, she asked.

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When the Logistic Command’s Public Relations Officer, Wing Commander Kabiru Alli was contacted, he said the Nigerian Air Force could not just evict someone without payment of gratuity.

He said, “The woman is not saying the truth. In the Nigerian Air Force, there is no way you would be evicted without being paid. When I approached her, she said her son had been committing crime since her husband was alive. She said she had been living in the barracks for two years after her husband’s demise.

When I contacted the barracks Commander, he confirmed that her son had been involved in robberies outside the barracks and would run into the barracks for cover and you know that we don’t condone such thing in the barracks because it is a disciplined environment. Besides, one of the provosts that ejected her said one of her children is in Kirikiri over a criminal offence. We don’t condone stealing here. Besides, she has been paid”.

Vanguard

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