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Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Pension Fraud: Reps summon Malami, Okonjo-Iweala, others

The House of Representatives has summoned the Attorney of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, the Head of Service (HoS), Winifred Oyo-Ita, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele to appear over alleged fraud in the administration of pension funds in the country.

The House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee investigating activities of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms from 2010 to the time of its dissolution and successor agencies issued the summons at its hearing, yesterday.

Others expected to appear before the committee are former minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former chairman of the Presidential Taskforce on Pension Reforms, Abdulrasheed Maina; former HoS, Steve Oronsaye and all members of Maina’s team.

Also expected to appear before the committee are the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris; acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission( EFCC), Ibrahim Magu and chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), Bolaji Owasanoye, as well as Lagos lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN).

All those summoned will appear before the committee next Monday.

This was against the backdrop of the Executive Secretary, Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD), Sharon Ikeazor, who appeared before the committee, yesterday, and disclosed that the agency has recovered N20.3 billion from the N26 billion Pension Legacy Fund traced to insurance companies in the country.

Ikeazor explained that  N6.7 billion cash was recovered and is now domiciled with Central Bank of Nigeria while property worth N13.5 billion recovered by PTAD is being re-valued by the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing.

She said PTAD has already made a presentation to the  Presidential Committee on Stolen Assets, in respect of the insurance still holding part of the Legacy Fund and will not hesitate to engage the  EFCC and other law enforcement agencies in its quest to recover the fund.

Speaking at the investigative hearing,  committee chairman, Anayo Nnebe, noted that “over time, pension administration has been characterised by manifest challenges of corruption, occasioned by poor administration, lack of transparency, near absence of data for pensioners and other setbacks, which incidences, unfortunately had been borne by men and women who served their fatherland meritoriously.”

In his submission, Executive Director of Legislative Watch, Ngozika Ihioma, who was a member of the defunct presidential task force on pension reforms, disclosed how “the defunct presidential task team on pension conducted biometrics for over 170,000 pensioners, pioneered payment of pensioners in the Diaspora, recovered and saved over N282 billion from two pension offices, detected and deleted 73,000 ghost pensioners from the HoS’ office and Police Pension Office, discovered about 50,000 unpaid pensioners, stopped monthly stealing of N4.175 billion from the  office of the HoS, saved N1 billion police pension monthly releases, detected fraud of over N2.7 billion by the Nigerian Union of Pensioners as well as seized property and cash worth N1.63 trillion.”

Ihioma wondered why it is only Maina “who is innocent,” and is being mentioned in the alleged diversion of the pension fund.

“What of all the other members (of the task force) and other government officials at the time?”he queried.

Sun News

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