By Henry Umoru
ABUJA — THE Senate, yesterday, ordered that the Chairman, Pension Task Team, Mr. Abdulrasheed Abdullahi Maina, John Yusuf, B.G. Kaigama and all the members of the team be sacked, and that the Inspector-General of Police Abubakar Mohammed must immediately arrest and prosecute them.
According to the Senate, the order became imperative following their involvement in fraud, embezzlement, misappropriation, misapplication, illegal virement, contract splitting, award of contract to non existing companies, award of contract without appropriations and outright stealing of pension funds. The Senate said the stolen funds must be recovered from them.
The Senate which also identified N43.21 billion of Police Pensions which were unspent said it should be mopped up by the Accountant General of the Federation and returned to the Pensions Arrears Account, adding: “Where the funds could not be traced, the accounting officer should be held responsible.”The resolutions of the Senate came after discussions on the Senator Aloysius Etok-led Joint Committee of Establishment and Public Service and States and Local Government which investigated the payment of pensioners and management/administration of pension funds in Nigeria.
The committee also revealed that N1.025 trillion was received by all the pension offices between 2005 and 2011, but only N751.444 billion was spent within the period, leaving a balance of N273.941 billion.
Senate adopts c’ttee recommendation
Also yesterday, the Senate while describing those involved in the pension scam as guilty of blood of those who had lost their lives struggling to receive their retirement benefits, however, adopted the recommendation of the committee that “the unspent balance of pension funds to the tune of N58,715,239.66 should be mopped up by the Accountant General of the Federation and transferred to the pension arrears with the Central Bank of Nigeria. Where the funds could not be traced in such accounts, the accounting officer should be held responsible.”
In his comment, vice chairman of the committee, Kabiru Gaya, who noted that the records of the balance of N58.715billion was still missing at the office of the Head of Service, said: “Within six years, the Head of the Civil Service received a total of N216 billion as pensions. It only spent N154 billion, remaining a balance of N58.7 billion.
“We made efforts to get records of the balance of N58.7 billion throughout the period of the investigation and we did not get any.”
He noted that about N1.76 billion earmarked for the settlement of the families of dead pensioners was diverted by officials of the Head of Service to recurrent expenditure, leaving the families without the benefits.
Mark, Ndoma-Egba rain curses
Angered by the development where money which belonged to pensioners were embezzled, Senate President David Mark who rained curses on those involved, said: “Anybody who has been involved in this thing is not God-fearing. He is just somebody moving around in the midst of human beings. This to me is not just a monumental fraud but also a national disgrace and embarrassment, whether it is to living or dead Nigerians that we could have this level of fraud, the system is totally unacceptable. We will also insist that our recommendations are implemented.
“None of these recommendations is close to the punishment that they deserve. But as human beings, we have just made our recommendations and hope that the Almighty God will see them to hell.”
Also reacting and vexed by the level of corruption and inhumanity to man nature, Leader of the Senate, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba said: “I have always suspected that things are bad in this country. I have always been an optimist, but today I cannot say that anyone of us here can say that he knows that things are this bad. I have friends who are pensioners. My father retired from the Court of Appeal over 20years ago and my younger brother goes to sign for his pensions. He was standing in front of the records and saw over N7 million written against my father’s name, he was forced to sign for N5 million. That is the pension of a retired Justice of the Court of Appeal, whose son, by God’s grace, is today is the Senate Leader of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Nobody was afraid to take N2 million from his pension, so you can imagine what lesser mortals have gone through in the hands of the people who are appointed to save this situation but they ended up being principalities themselves.
‘’That is blood money and blood money is a cursed money, not only on them but on their children’s children, it is a curse on them no matter what they think.”
Briefing Journalists, Chairman, Senate Committee on Information, Media and Publicity, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe who said that Maina must appear before the Senate when it resumes, warned that if he fails, the upper chamber would be forced to issue warrant of arrest, adding that he must be brought to book along side others.
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