An anti-graft  coalition, the  Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), has demanded a thorough investigation into allegations that some individuals and organisations looted pension funds totalling N200billion.
 
The demand was made in a petition addressed to the office of the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). In the petition, supported by documents, Mr. Olanrewaju Suraj, the coalition's chairman, called on the EFCC to probe fresh discoveries of alleged criminal conversion and embezzlement of pensions of pensioners by civil servants, other government officials, and pension funds administrators. 
 
 “We have received an evidence-based,  detailed petition from a concerned, and involved Staff of Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) on how pension funds were looted and pensioners left to suffer in abject poverty over the years by several certain individuals and organisations.
 
“Your commission currently is prosecuting some of the old officers and on the manhunt for Maina, of the infamous Pension Reform Task Team, but obviously unaware of the entrenched criminal conversion and embezzlement of pensions of innocent pensioners by civil servants in active collusion with government officials and pension underwriters," the coalition said in the petition.
 

Kudirat Iyabo Adeleke one of the women arrested for stealing pension funds is under trial in Ibadan
 
The coalition added that it is in possession of Information showing that PTAD's attempts to investigate and expose the fraud in the administration of pension funds were stiffly resisted by entrenched interests and influential personalities involved in the act.                        "These beneficiaries are allegedly influential and very powerful, feasting on missing or “trapped” pension funds, running into hundreds of billions of Naira,”‎ explained the petition. 
 
 
 Examples of pension funds allegedly being misappropriated and embezzled, said the ‎coalition, include surplus funds with insurance companies. When estimated, they amount to be about  ₦18,387,737,398.80 billion in one year; ₦91,938,686,994.00 billion in five years and  ₦183,877,373,988.00 billion over the last 10 years.
 
“This massive surplus is said not to be reported to the government and no evidence of otherwise utilization.                                                               

This amount is significant in any economy. The Nigerian government must recoup the funds from insurance companies concerned and prosecute the looters and their collaborators,” CSNAC demanded.

 
Explaining how the take-over of parastatal pension by PTAD was frustrated,  CSNAC said it was informed that gathered that“ Mr. M. N. Awute, a former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, was behind the development. With the establishment of PTAD in August 2013, the Office of Head of Service via a letter with Ref. No. PEN63903/S105/T/1/68 and dated 30th October, 2013 intimated all agencies, ministries and parastatals of PTAD’s taking over of all Pension Boards.
 
“Curiously, one year after, in violation of the directive of the Head of Service, Mr. Awute wrote the Director- General of PTAD vide letter with ref. No. SMH.494/S,9/C.5/XI/T/139 dated 1st August 2014, demanding further postponement of PTAD take -over until December 2015. PTAD refused the request and the federal government was eventually saved ₦7.6 billion," the petition added. On the over N20 billion that are trapped in insurance companies, CSNAC said‎: “These are documented funds which insurance companies concerned have refused to return to the Treasury. The breakdown of companies owing the government and the amount involved are as follows:
 
“NICON Insurance ₦13 billion; Niger Insurance N931,960,814 million; Custodian Assurance N745,625,580 million; Industrial General Inc. N658,058,759 million; LASACO Life N603,715,186 million; UNIC Insurance Co; N302,802,954 million; AIICO Insurance 190,215,762 million; Crusader Sterling Insurance N113,519,776 million; African Alliance Insurance N47,632,191 million; Goldlink Insurance N33,747,743 million and Bondwell Insurance Co. N29,166,669 million.
 
“These are funds that the insurance companies collected from the government and failed to neither pass on to pensioners nor returned to government.”
 
The coalition also identified irregularities in the administration of the pension funds of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC). According to CSNAC,  the NRC has surreptitiously retained ₦2.5 billion pension payment, while claiming the said amount has been returned to the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF). 
 
“The total amount owed and returned to the OAGF was ₦3.6 billion but in a shady and dirty deal, the OAGF returned ₦2.5 billion of it to the management of the NRC, remitting only about ₦1.1 billion to PTAD.  The NRC pensioners union and the Nigerian Union of Pensioners have petitioned the National Assembly and PTAD to assist in recovering the fund. The two bodies involved (the OAGF and the NUP Railway) have consistently engaged in bulk passing with regards to the refund of the outstanding ₦2.5 billion, ” it said.
 
Also, CSNAC said it has been informed that  the now defunct Pension Boards of Trustees ‎(PBoTs) are withholding over ₦1 billion of pension balances. “For instance, The PBoT of Kaduna Polytechnic is reported to be in possession of about ₦1 billion, and other PBoT have significant funds stashed away in unknown commercial banks,” it said. On overpayment and fictitious pensioners, the coalition disclosed that ‎ PTAD generated a list of civil servants who deliberately overpaid themselves.  These, it said, include former directors and other staff of the Office of the Head of the Civil Service, who fraudulently inflated their pensions and also inserted bogus and fictitious names in the civil service pension payroll.  
 
“For example, pensioners on less than ₦20,000 monthly pension allegedly helped themselves to ₦330,000 monthly. They overpaid themselves and their friends by over ₦300,000 (three hundred thousand) each month.  PTAD has a list of over 100 of these people. This list consumes about ₦230,362,000.00 (million) annually. Over the last five years, the amount is estimated at ₦1,151,810,000.00 (billion), and in ten years ₦2,303,620,000.00 (billion),” CSNAC said.‎
   In a similar vein, CSNAC is demanding a probe into the ₦2.7 billion released to the Office of the Accountant General for the payment of pension arrears to Next of Kins (NoKs) in the parastatal sector. 
 The OAGF, CSNAC alleged,  went against the law and over PTAD to demand the release of this pension funds from former Minister of Finance.
 
“The Minister of Finance and (Budget Office of the Federation) BOF allegedly released this pension funds to OAGF when the law designated PTAD as the statutory body charged with the payment of pensions.
 
“The OAGF allegedly ignored PENCOM’s intervention to transfer the funds into a PTAD pension account in CBN and illegally kept the fund for almost a year. The OAGF is allegedly making direct payment to 1,700 NoKs while PTAD could only transparently validate a list of 900 and only ₦1.5 billion as against the ₦2.7 billion claimed by the OAGF office.
 
“This payment must be investigated and closely monitored to ensure only genuine NoKs are paid and that ₦1.2 billion of the ₦2.7 billion remains in government coffer.”
 
The coalition also identified pension assets with some government agencies as constituting a contravention of the PTAD law. 
 
“The Bureau for Public Enterprises, Ministry of Power, BPSR and OAGF all operated special payments to pensioners for several years, in contravention of the PTAD law.  Huge funds are involved in power sector pension payment, Next of Kins payment, etc.” said the coalition.‎
 

You may also like

Read Next

Trending Now

For comments view this content on the regular site.