The Supreme Court has affirmed the six years imprisonment imposed on a former Federal Director of Pensions, Mister John Yakubu, and also ordered him to refund the sum of N22.9b to the Federal Government.
The N22.9b was part of the police pension fund he admitted before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to have been misappropriated.
Justice Tijjani Abubakar in a judgment in an appeal filed by Yusuf upheld the decision of the Court of Appeal which in 2018 sent him to six years imprisonment in addition to the refund of the sum.
The apex court held that Yusuf and others engaging in fraudulent practices must be told through court judgments that it is no longer business as usual.
Justice Abubakar said that the appeal of the former federal pension director seeking to set aside the six years jail term against him was frivolous and devoid of merit.
He further held that victims of the convicted director deserve restitution which can only be achieved through justice.
Yusuf had dragged the Federal Government before the apex court seeking to overturn the six years imprisonment slammed on by the Court of Appeal.
The former pensions director, who is serving the six years jail term at the Kuje correctional facility, also asked the Supreme Court to set aside a whopping sum of N22.9 billion he was ordered to refund to the government treasury by the Court of Appeal in a 2018 judgment.
He was sent to prison in 2018 by the Court of Appeal in Abuja upon being found guilty of defrauding the Federal Government to the tune of N22.9 billion through police pensions.
Retired soldiers under the group of Coalition of Concerned Veterans (CCV) on Monday took the streets of Kaduna to protest over non-payment of their pensions and other outstanding entitlements.
The ex-servicemen who were accompanied by wives of some deceased soldiers lamented that they have not been paid their pension for the past 24 months and security development allowance despite the fact that monies for their pension have been approved and released by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The retired soldiers also demanded that they be included in the ongoing war against terrorism and banditry, saying although most of them are retired, they can assist in tackling the insecurity that has bedeviled the nation.
One of the retired soldiers, RSM Rafiu Ajetumobi said they took to the streets after all avenues of peaceful reconciliation with the government were exhausted.
“We want to exhaust all avenues of peace reconciliations with the government. Since the first quarter of this year, we have been contacting those in authority but there’s been no response,” Ajetumobi said.
The leader of the retired soldiers, Auwal Aliyu, and a widow whose husband died in the northeast while fighting Boko Haram said they deserve the payment of their pensions and other outstanding entitlements, having fought for the security and unity of the country.
Aliyu appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari’s intervention of directing the military authorities to pay their pensions without further delay.
An elderly man on Monday collapsed in Edo State as retirees protested over their unpaid pensions and gratuities by the state government.
During the exercise, the senior citizens disrupted the flow of traffic at Ring Road in Benin City, the state capital while airing their grievances.
Most of them, dressed in black top and black trousers, carried placards bearing different inscriptions like ‘Governor Obaseki, please pay us our gratuity,’ ‘All we are saying pay us our gratuity,’ ‘Pensioners need gratuity to take care of our health and family’ among others.
Suddenly, one of their colleagues slumped, a situation that forced the other protesters to suddenly rush him to a nearby hospital for treatment.
According to them, the non-payment of their gratuity dates back to the administration of former Governor Adams Oshiomhole.
While noting that they have had enough, the retirees insisted that they have been denied the harmonisation of their pensions in Edo State and that the harmonisation is backed by law.
One of the pensioners, Godwin Egbon, told Channels Television that whenever there is a salary increase, pensions should also be increased by the same percentage.
“The Constitution says whenever there is salary increase, pensioners’ pension should also be increased by the same percentage but nothing is being said and nothing is being done,” he said.
“Worst still, the ‘Comrade Governor’ Oshiomhole, a union man who ought to have corrected these ills, did not do it.”
The pensioners also alleged that the state government connived with some union members to withdraw one percent from their already lean pension as dues for their unions.
‘Govt Does Not Owe A Penny’
But the state government says it is caught in the crossfire between two opposing pensioner union members, insisting that is the main reason for the protest.
Special Adviser to the Governor on Media, Crusoe Osagie said the state government does not owe the pensioners a dime.
“There is supposed to be a statutory one percent deduction which they have not ironed out among themselves yet, so that is what is causing this crisis,” he said.
“The state government is caught in a cross-fire of disagreements within pension unions in the state. Whatever happened today with pensioners’ protest didn’t have anything to do with protests being owed because this state government does not owe a penny.”
The Federal Government has announced plans to commence increased payment of pension to retirees to reflect the new minimum wage.
This follows the presidential approval for the implementation of the consequential adjustment to the pension benefits occasioned by the new minimum wage of 2019.
The payment of the new pension to retirees will commence from May, Dr Chioma Ejikeme told reporters at a briefing on Friday in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
Ejikeme is the Executive Secretary of the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) – the Federal Government agency established in August 2013 in compliance with the provisions of Section 30 sub-section (2) (a) of the Pension Reform Act (PRA) of 2004 (amended in 2014).
She noted that with the approval, PTAD would commence the upward adjustment of all pensioners’ benefits according to the approved template.
The PTAD chief also announced that the arrears would take effect from April 2019 and the agency would commence payment also in May.
According to her, the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) has no reason to protest as the issue was at the conclusive stage and PTAD will continue to work hard to improve the quality of the lives of the senior citizens.
Ejikeme, however, warned that the payment of the new pension benefits would be done as a responsibility of the government and no form of gratification would be requested.
She asked the pensioners to report anyone requesting gratification before their benefits would be paid.
The PTAD chief appealed to the senior citizens to continue to cooperate with the agency to provide better services to them.
Read the full text of her briefing below:
Executive Secretary’s Speech at the Press Conference on the Consequential Adjustment to Pension Benefits Arising From the Implementation of the New Minimum Wage on 30th April 2021.
Good morning All.
It is my immense pleasure to interact with you and brief you this morning. The Presidential approval for the implementation of the consequential adjustment to the pension benefits occasioned by the new minimum wage of 2019 has been granted and the circular released.
With this approval, PTAD is now empowered to start the upward adjustment of all pensioners’ benefits according to the approved template.
The consequential adjustment of the new pension payment will start from the May 2021 payroll. The arrears will take effect from April 2019. PTAD will also commence payment of the arrears from May 2021.
It will be recalled that on the 22nd of April, 2021, I issued a Press Release to inform the general public of the sincerity of Mr. President to implement the consequential adjustment on the pension benefits.
I made it emphatically clear that the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) has no reason to go on any protest because the matter was at the conclusive stage.
As a responsible Agency of government saddled with the mandate of overseeing the payment of pension benefits to pensioners under the Defined Benefit Scheme and taking care of their welfare, we are encouraged to do more for our pensioners. We will continue to strive to improve the quality of their lives.
Let me at this point inform and caution our senior citizens once again, that PTAD will not request any gratification from anybody before the money will be paid into their account.
They should not give their account details to anybody. They should report any scammer or anyone requesting gratification before their benefits would be paid to PTAD.
I repeat, do not give money to anybody. We have concluded arrangements to send SMS to all pensioners informing them of the payment and to caution them on the activities of pension scammers.
We continue to appeal to pension Unions to continue to partner and cooperate with the Directorate in our bid to provide better services to our Senior Citizens.
“The labour of our heroes past shall not be in vain.”
The Federal Government, through the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) on Friday, asked members of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) to shelve its proposed protest over delay in the implementation of the consequential adjustment to the pension benefits.
The retirees had earlier planned a nationwide protest to mount pressure on states and Federal Government to implement the increase on their pension, occasioned by the 2019 minimum wage.
A statement signed by the Executive Secretary of PTAD noted that the government will likely commence the implementation of the consequential adjustment by the end of April 2021, blaming the delay on “disruptions caused by COVID-19.”
Meanwhile, members of the federal parastatals and private sector Pensioners Association of Nigeria (FEPPAN) have directed its members across the country to honour the appeal by the federal government.
SEE FULL STATEMENT HERE:
Let NUP Shelve the Protest.
It has come to the attention of the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) that the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) at its 11th quadrennial Delegate Conference resolved to go on protest at the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, tomorrow 23rd April, 2021 because of the delay in the implementation of the consequential adjustment to the pension benefits occasioned by the recently approved minimum wage.
As a responsible Agency of government saddled with the responsibility of overseeing the payment of pension benefits to pensioners under the Defined Benefit Scheme and their welfare, we are encouraged to appeal to our respected Pensioners that there is no justification for the protest after the meeting with PTAD Executive Secretary, Dr. Chioma Ejikeme.
It will be recalled that the Directorate held a meeting with the National Executives of the Union led by Dr. Abel Afolayan on the 16th March, 2021 where the issue of the implementation of the pension adjustment was openly discussed and the Union gave their understanding. At the meeting, the ES told the Exco that the implementation is most likely to commence at the end of April, 2021 going by the submissions that had been made by all stakeholders.
However, there has been a little delay due to unforeseen circumstances but we believe the implementation can still start as early as May 2021.
Our Senior Citizens have nothing to fear because we have a President that has demonstrated greater commitment to the welfare of our Pensioners through PTAD more than any other President we have had in the past. Therefore, the issue of implementation will not be different. The matter is very important to the President.
We know the Pensioners have waited enough, although the issue of the Covid-19 played a significant role in the delay, we wish to encourage our Senior Citizens to trust that the consequential adjustment will be made without further delay. There is no reason for this protest.
The Federal Parastatals and Private Sector Pensioners Association of Nigeria (FEPPPAN) has directed its members not to participate in any minimum pension protest.
The directive was contained in a statement issued on Thursday by its President-General, Temple Ubani.
Ubani reiterated its call for President Muhammadu Buhari, to speedily intervene and ensure that pensions adjustment for Pensioners is implemented without further delays to forestall imminent embarrassing actions by the senior citizens.
FEPPPAN said the National Administrative Council (NAC) had earlier engaged government on the matter and was given a satisfactory response that assured that “Federal Government was at the final stages of approving, issuance of circular and implementation of the negotiated adjustments for pensioners.”
“Consequent upon the signing of the Minimum Wage ACT by President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR in 2019 and the implementation of the law for the active workers of the Federal Government of Nigeria, FEPPPAN and other sister pension unions have been variously prevailing on the government to implement the Pensioners component of the law in accordance with the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 as Amended,” the statement partly read.
“Furthermore on the 1st of March 2021, FEPPPAN wrote a Passionate open Appeal to Mr. President and copied all relevant government agencies and Stakeholders on the subject. The letter which was delivered to the addressee’s hard copies was also published in the print and online media.
“As a follow-up, on the matter, the National Administrative Council NAC of FEPPPAN further took up the Executive Secretary of PTAD Dr. Mrs. Chioma Ejikeme on the matter, at a scheduled meeting of both parties held at the Directorate’s headquarters in Abuja on the 15th April 2021.
“The E. S. Ptad reiterated that the Federal Government was at the final stages of approving, issuance of circular and implementation of the negotiated adjustments for the Pensioners. She expressed the hope that the process would be concluded in two months’ time latest.
“Dr. Ejikeme described as unnecessary for the Pensioners to embark on any street protests which might portray them as being ungrateful or insensitive to President Buhari’s commitment to the welfare and well-being of the Senior Citizens through regular and prompt payment of monthly Pensions and arrears.
“However FEPPPAN NAC members assured the meeting that our Union had no plans to immediately embark on any mass action or street protests against the Administration of President Buhari as a mark of honour and appreciation for his safe return to the office from a medical trip abroad.
“We, therefore, appeal once more for the President’s intervention so that the Pensions adjustment for Pensioners will be implemented without further delays to forestall imminent embarrassing actions by the Senior Citizens.
“In the circumstances, all PARASTATALS AND PRIVATE SECTORS PENSIONERS are directed to refrain from participating in any street protests on account of the delayed pension’s adjustment.”
Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRasaq has presented an executive bill to repeal the law granting payment of monthly pension to former Governors and the deputy governors before the State House of Assembly.
The Speaker, Mr Yakubu Danladi, announced the presentation of the Bill on Friday while reading the Governor’s message to the House during plenary.
The Speaker, while presenting the governor’s request, said the bill was tailored toward realising the cardinal objective of the state government on prudent management of resources.
All members at the plenary unanimously agreed that the bill had passed first reading after the presentation of the governor’s request for consideration.
Danladi later referred the bill to the House Committee on Rules and Business to slate the bill for deliberation during the next legislative sitting of the House.
Governor Abdulrazaq had earlier in November announced plans by the state government to abolish the payment of pension packages to former governors and former deputy governors in the state.
The announcement comes three days after Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State informed lawmakers in the State House of Assembly about his administration’s effort to stop the pension of former governors and deputies in the south-western state.
Kwara State Governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, on Friday announced plans by the state government to abolish the payment of pension packages to former governors and former deputy governors in the state.
The announcement comes three days after Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State informed lawmakers in the State House of Assembly about his administration’s effort to stop the pension of former governors and deputies in the south-western state.
In a statement issued in Ilorin, Governor Abdulrazaq’s Chief Press Secretary, Rafiu Ajakaye, confirmed that the governor would send a bill to the State House of Assembly next week, requesting the lawmakers to immediately repeal the law awarding pension packages to former governors and deputies in Kwara.
He explained that the governor’s decision was in line with his campaign mantra and proof that he recognised himself as a product of democracy.
“The governor has listened to voices of the majority of the citizens opposing the pension law for former governors and deputy governors.
“As representatives of the people, the lawmakers would exercise their discretion to call a public hearing on the topic to further harvest wider opinions on the topic,” Ajakaye said.
He added, “However, the governor feels it is time for the law as it is to give way. He would rather the state commits the scarce public funds to tackling the question of poverty and youth unemployment.”
On Tuesday, Governor Sanwo-Olu told the Lagos lawmakers that the government would send a draft executive bill to the House for the repeal of the Public Office Holder (Payment of Pension Law 2007), but no specific date was given.
The law provides for payment of pension and other entitlements to former governors and their deputies.
The Lagos governor had explained that the move was part of innovative ways of keeping the costs of governance at a minimum while engendering a spirit of selflessness in public service.
He added that the decision became necessary amid the dwindling revenues and the appurtenant inflationary growth rates in the state.
The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, has commended the move by the Lagos State government to repeal the Public Office Holder (Payment of Pension Law 2007) in the state.
The law provides for the payment of pension and other entitlements to former governors and their deputies in Lagos.
Tinubu, who was governor of Lagos between 1999 and 2007, commended Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for taking such a step which he described as “bold and courageous”.
He stated that he was wholeheartedly in support of the move and called on APC supporters in the state to do the same.
The former governor also congratulated Governor Sanwo-Olu on the presentation of the 2021 budget proposal to members of the Lagos State House of Assembly.
He noted that the proposal, tagged ‘Budget of Rekindled Hope’, was appropriately christened and would empower the people in the quest to rebuild the state following the recent destruction of government and private properties in the state.
Read the tweets by Tinubu below:
Congratulations to Governor Sanwo-Olu over the Y2021 budget which he appropriately christened” Budget of Rekindled Hope”. This audacious and enterprising budget will empower our people and begin to rebuild Lagos State. @jidesanwoolu@followlasg@lshaofficial@ekometa
The Kaduna State Government has released the sum of N1.6 billion for the payment of pensions, gratuities and death benefits to retired civil servants,
This was disclosed in a statement issued on Saturday by the Executive Secretary of the State Pension Bureau, Salamatu Isa.
She explained that the bureau has commenced physical verification of pensioners, which she notes is necessary to ensure that only genuine pensioners are paid.
According to Isa, the move is to ensure that pensioners supplied complete information, including correct account numbers and Bank Verification Number.
“We commenced payment of gratuities and death benefits on the 15th of September 2020 for batch 10. The state government released the sum of 1.6 billion naira, and we will pay pensioners from the State and 23 Local Governments that have been scheduled in the batch that is ready for payment.
“We want pensioners and next of kin of those who died to come over for physical verification. We also want to use exercise to collect complete information from the beneficiaries because some of them did not give complete information to the Bureau when they retired,” she said.
While noting that the bureau is currently paying the 10th batch of retired civil servants who have undergone verification, she lamented that there are people in batch 1-9 whose banks were unable to pay because they supplied incorrect account numbers and BVN.
She said that the bureau will ensure that all necessary information is supplied before names are forwarded to the banks to prevent a situation whereby pensioners have issues with their banks.
The Executive Secretary of the Pension Bureau asked civil servants who have retired from the state to come to the bureau with all relevant documents and information required.
She revealed that current administration inherited huge backlog of unpaid retirement and death benefits running into several billions of naira which previous governments failed to clear, saying it is impossible for any government to clear such amount in one swoop.
She commended the current administration for regular release of funds to clear the liabilities in batches.
The Bauchi State Police Command has arrested five suspects over an N21.5 million pension scam in the state.
The suspects are said to be employees of the Local Government Pension Board in the state.
They were apprehended for alleged criminal conspiracy, breach of trust, misappropriation, forgery and fraud amounting to N21,580,000.
This was disclosed by the police spokesman in the state, Ahmed Wakil, via a statement issued on Saturday.
According to him, the arrest followed a petition to the state Commissioner of Police by the state governor, Bala Mohammed, through his Principal Private Secretary.
Those arrested, he said, included the auditor, computer operator and three other workers with the board.
Wakil explained that the suspects inserted seven illegal names of pensioners and fraudulently siphoned various sums of money for a period ranging from six to 36 months.
The statement partly read, “On the 12th of September 2020, at about 1300hrs a letter of complaint from the office of Executive Governor Bauchi State signed by Musa Mohammed Kirfi PPS to the Governor of Bauchi State against the following suspects: Mohammed B. Mohammed, Editor of the board; Musa Bappayo, computer operator of the board and Samaila Musa all staff of Local Government Pension Board.
“The complaint was received through the office of the commissioner of police for discrete investigation.
“When interrogated the above-mentioned persons confessed to have inserted about seven illegal beneficiaries’ names into the pensions records fraudulently as Mohammed Namamu and Abubakar Muazu.
“These Two were the candidates/Beneficiaries introduced by Samaila Musa ‘m’ aged 38yrs of Federal Low-cost who inserted above-mentioned none of them is a civil servant of the state. They were found to have been receiving N65, 000 and N85, 000 per month for the period of 18 months which accumulated to N2,700,000.”
The police spokesman added, “Yasir Sulaiman (37) of Bayan airport has Two candidates, whom he received N320,000 per month for the period of 23 months which accumulated to N7,360,000.
“Garba Bala (39) of Tirwun Bauchi who introduced two candidates and receiving N300,000 per month for 36 months which accumulated to N10,800,000.
“Umar Mohammed Madara (49) of Ibrahim Bako Bauchi has one candidate, whom he receives N120,000 per month for the period of six months which accumulated N720,000.”
The police spokesman explained that efforts were ongoing to arrest other fleeing suspects in connection with the fraud.
The Edo State government says it has spent N25,047,472,632.77 for the payment of monthly pension of 13,081 pensioners from November 2016 to May 2020.
According to the Mid-Year Report of the Edo State Pension Bureau, the government has also expended over N4.3 billion in clearing the backlog of outstanding pension arrears owed about 3,128 pensioners in the state.
A breakdown of the figure shows that the government spent a total of N771,714,393.01 between November and December 2016 for the payment of pensions; expended N5,371,283,211.09 in 2017; while N6,452,535,649.08 and N7,936,681,957.45 were spent in 2018 and 2019 for the same purpose.
“For 2020, the government spent N735,069,623.04; N736,780,760.18; N759,731,334.31; N760,620,948.61; N759,695,333.23 and N763,359,423.02 in January, February, March, April, May and June respectively,” the report stated.
It explained that with the setting aside of N200 million monthly, the Godwin Obaseki administration was able to defray arrears of pensions dating back to 1996 to December 2018.
The government, the Bureau noted, divided the pensioners into batches 37 to 65 and ensured that the backlog was cleared after physical and documentary verifications.
Following the payment of outstanding pension arrears, it revealed that the government would consider harmonisation of pensions and payment of death benefits and gratuity in the weeks ahead.
The Bureau disclosed that an efficient management process has been put in place to fast-track the processing and documentation of retiring officers’ entitlements, thus ensuring a seamless migration from salary payroll to pension payroll.
It stressed that this has minimised the incidence of accumulation of pension arrears that had been a burden before the inception of the present administration.
The report also revealed that civil servants eligible to register under the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) have the benefit of a Group Life Insurance cover that makes provision for beneficiaries of contributors in the event of death in active service.
“The sum of N80,713,446.34 was paid as premium for 9,803 Edo State employees in the CPS. With this payment made, the next of kin of deceased employees receives three times their gross annual salary as benefits.
“From the commencement of the CPS on January 1, 2017 till date, a total sum of N 81,169,724.24 have been paid to families of 34 deceased employees of the State Public Service who were enrolees of the CPS,” it noted.
The report stated further, “The state government exercised political will and has been committed to the payment of pension arrears, monthly pension, death benefits under the Defined Benefit Scheme and government’s 10 per cent matching contribution into the Employees’ RSA, in compliance with the provisions of the Edo State Contributory Pension Scheme Law of 2010 as amended.
“The state has made remittances of contributions of both employees (8%) and employer (10%) to the PFAs for 39 months, i.e. from January 2017 to April 2020 which amounts to N5,230,348,954.34.
“Of this, government’s (employer) matching (10%) contribution is N2,905,749,419.08 only, while that of the employees’ (8%) contribution is N 2,324,599,535.26. Also, a Retirement Benefits Bonds Redemption Fund (RBBRF) account has been opened with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“This account is being funded monthly to ensure that funds are available to defray the accrued pension rights of employees who have registered for the Contributory Pension Scheme. The RBBRF Account is being funded with 5% of the total monthly wage bill of employees in fulfilment of the provision of the Contributory Pension Scheme Law.”