As govt moves to tackle pension fraud
By Chinonso Alozie
Owerri— PENSIONERS in Imo State are quarrelling with the state government over unresolved pension issues since March 2020, when the current government took over the rein of affairs.
According to the pensioners, 20 per cent of their colleagues have not been paid a dime since March 2020 and they have been living a frustrated life of want.
Lamenting the plight of this set of pensioners, the Chairman of Nigeria Union of Pensioners, NUP, Imo State chapter, Josiah Ugochukwu said: “Pension in Imo State is not being paid generally. About 80 per cent of pensioners in Imo State are being paid up to date since March 2020 when Governor Hope Uzodimma came on board. About 20 per cent or more are not receiving at all.
This issue came up around September, October, and November last year when they did mop up and collected the information and since then, nothing has happened. They have not been paid anything.
“The union appeals to the Imo State Government to take proactive action this year for the payment of gratuity to all retired pensioners. The union is at their beck and call for discussions on the modalities for payment of the hugely accumulated pension arrears and gratuity.
“Also, the union thanks the governor for paying about 80 per cent of pensioners in Imo State, from March 2020 till date. We equally commend the governor for the recent verification of pensioners who for one reason or the other, have not been receiving pensions.
“The union believes that the best approach as has been adopted by the union in solving nagging issues like payment of pension arrears and gratuity is dialogue.
The Nigeria Union of Pensioners, Imo State branch is hopeful that all pensioners who have been verified will start receiving their monthly pensions and the accrued arrears henceforth.”
Meanwhile, the state government has announced the commencement of a process of sanitising the state’s Pension Board to tackle the rising cases of fraud in the system.
The Commissioner for Labour, Employment and Productivity, Mr. Ford Ozumba, disclosed this in Owerri and frowned at reports of fraudulent activities on the board, lamenting that some of the workers were “responsible for the excesses.”
He described the situation as regrettable, noting that: “When we came in, we discovered the incredible fraud in the pension system, a situation which was bleeding the state. We hired the services of a seasoned finance expert who had spent all her life in the military, and with all the precision that comes with managing military finance, we have gotten the desired results.”