By Dennis Agbo
Retired Nigeria Police officers from the South-East and South-South geopolitical zones, who equally served the defunct Biafra Republic during the civil war, have lamented obstacles mounted by the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate, PTAD, in accessing their pensions and gratuity.
In a stakeholders’ interactive meeting organised by PTAD last week, to create an avenue for some of the retirees who have issues with their pensions to leverage on and resolve their matters, the senior citizens stated that some of the documents required from them to access their pensions were not with them.
They, however, gave credit to the Federal Government, particularly PTAD, for their efforts and passion in making sure that some of them receive their entitlements, noting that if they had had such devotions from the previous Police Pension departmental heads, they would have been able to resolve most of the present issues.
The retirees said that most of the documents they were being called upon to produce now had been repeatedly produced by them. They lamented that it was difficult to handle a case of someone who was paid, who remembers what he was paid but did not retain his voucher or cheque and who didn’t open an account with it but knows the amount he was paid.
President of Association of Retired War Affected Police Officers, ARWAPO, Chief Matthew Udeh while addressing the stakeholders’ interactive meeting said it would be a disservice not to pay a pensioner on the ground that he had lost his pay voucher after many years of payment.
According to Udeh, the pensioners had some cases where they were paid in 2015 or 2007 but were told that they were not entitled to be paid again which they objected because the 2007 and 2015 computation, according to them, were based on 1970 police scale of salary.
“Our submission is that it should be recomputed with a 2000 scale of salary and the difference paid the beneficiaries,” Udeh said.
The senior citizens further complained that they had dealt with queries on the course of their verification exercises such as the issue of next-of-kin, noting also that there is a case of payment of pensions to officers who died before amnesty was granted to the former Biafra police officers by President Olusegun Obasanjo on May 29, 2000.
They lamented that the present policy of PTDA was that those who died before the amnesty was granted do not qualify for payment, but that their contention was that the amnesty that was granted covered affected police officers that were dismissed in 1970.
He also said that the choice of the 2000 date as benchmark instead of 1970 for calculation of the pension was made convenient for the government so that the amount involved would not be too much for the authority.
“So, we are saying that those next-of-kin should not lose the benefit of their people just because they died before the year 2000 and the proper interpretation ought to be that PTAD as the enforcing authority, deem every officer who died before 2000 to have died from 2000 for the purposes of the amnesty.
“It is in the same manner that they have now interpreted that every retired war affected officer, whether you were serving for nine years before the retirement or two years before retirement but by the virtue of the amnesty, you are deemed to have served for 35 years. We propose that this call be applied to those who died before the amnesty was granted,” Udeh requested.
He appreciated the Federal Government as represented by PTAD for giving them the opportunity to rub minds so as to find answers to their problem.
PTAD however insisted that documents it requires from the ARWOPO members and the Next-Of-Kins include: Evidence of Service with the Nigerian Police such as dismissal letter or first appointment letter.
Other letters expected from senior citizens are Letter of Amnesty from the Police Service Commission; Introduction letter from Association of War Affected Police Officers (ARWAPO); one colored passport size photograph and BVN Print out.
Additional documents required to be put on payroll for amnesty are Pension Advice; Bank statement showing where payment of gratuity was paid in 2006/2007; Photocopy of the cheque paid as arrears of gratuity in 2006/2007; Photocopy of PENCOM voucher issued during amnesty verification; Commendation/award while in service and Dismissal letter written by Inspector General of Police.
For the Next-of-Kin of the war affected police officers, they are required to produce evidence of payment of gratuity in 2006/2007 to the deceased officer; Letter of administration from a Federal High Court; Death Certificate of the deceased officer; NOK Joint Account (Duly stamped and signed NUBAN Bank Statement of Account with Bank Logo); Deceased Bank statement from Jan 2006-date and NOKs BVN Print out.
PTAD said that some of the challenges it has with the ARWAPO members include incomplete documentation for enrollment; inadequate information to facilitate speedy complaint resolution for pensioners, noting that bank Statements often do not correspond with the period of complaint, as well as delay in response from the Police Service Commission and other Agencies of government on confirmation of service.
The pension agency also said that sometimes it’s encumbered by death notifications that do not have adequate information to identify the pensioner, just like sometimes death certificates were not attached and activities of pension fraudsters.