By Dennis Agbo
The Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate, PTAD, has so far disbursed no less than One billion, One hundred and three million, Nine hundred and eighty-five thousand, one hundred and twenty-four Naira, forty-four kobo (N1, 103,985,124.44) as gratuity and pension arrears to 559 retired war affected police officers, also known as ex-Biafra police officers.
The breakdown indicated that N954, 077,715.29 was paid to 414 pensioners, while N149, 907,409.15 was paid as death benefits to 145 next-of-kin of deceased pensioners largely located in South East and South-South geopolitical zones of Nigeria.
Executive Secretary of PTAD, Dr Chioma Ejikeme made the disclosure when the Directorate held an interactive meeting with members of the Association of Retired War Affected Police Officers, ARWAPO, in Enugu, on Thursday.
The retired war affected police officers are a set of members of the Nigeria police force that took sides with the State of Biafra during the Nigeria Civil War and were dismissed from the Nigeria police in 1971. They were later pardoned and granted amnesty by President Olusegun Obasanjo on May 29 2000.
Ejikeme stated that PTAD was currently reviewing and computing all pending ARWAPO pensioners’ complaints with the view to payrolling them for monthly pension, payment of arrears and payment of benefits to the next of kin of deceased AWARPO pensioners.
She however said that provision of documents by AWARPO members required for qualification for benefit computation and payment had been a challenge, which was one of the reasons for the Enugu meeting; for cross-pollination of ideas, provision of clarity regarding grey areas and information dissemination.
Dr Ejikeme told the pensioners not to pay anybody who approaches them with the promise that such a person will process their entitlement since money was not required to process their pensions.
Chairman Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service and former Governor of Kano state, Senator Ibrahim Shekarau stated that pension formed one of his top priorities as governor.
“Then I cleared a backlog of pensions, the old must be given their entitlement for their sacrifices to serve humanity. I left over N9 billion in contributory pensions. I am a product of a police officer and that informed my passion about pensions because I know the sacrifices of my father to serve humanity as a police officer,” Shekarau said.
President of ARWAPO, Chief Mathew Udeh said that it was not their fault that they continued service to the same regional government they were serving before the civil war broke out.
“After 30 years in the wilderness, we were granted a pardon but they paid us with 1970 salary scale while our retirements were in 2000. Sharon Ikeazor presented our case to President Muhammadu Buhari who approved of our proper payment in 2017,” Udeh said.
He however noted that the difficulty his members were having was how to provide the 2006/2007 payment slips as being demanded by PTAD. “Some have lost copies of the cheques that were used to pay them,” Udeh lamented.