The Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) has enrolled about 220,000 pensioners and uncovered 9,000 ghost payees, its Executive Secretary Mrs. Sharon Ikeazor, said yesterday.
According to her, 450 ex-Biafran policemen, who were pardoned in 2000 by ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, would soon get their pension and gratuities.
The former Biafran policemen will get pension justice 46 years after. The civil war ended in January 1970.
She however said three former employees of PTAD were sacked because of pension fraud and might be prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC). Two other seconded employees have been referred to the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita for disciplinary action, she added.
Mrs Ikeazor told reporters that henceforth, pension payment would be effected by the 15th day of the month.
She said: “I think we have about 220,000 pensioners nationwide on the payroll. There are still people who are yet to be on the payroll because we haven’t verified them. Right now, the verification that has been completed is Customs, Immigration, Police and Prisons. But we are still doing quality assurance on some of them.
“I am now signatory to pension payment, I make sure everything goes out every 15th of the month. What I inherited at PTAD, I saw the challenges when I came in. I will be honest, I won’t say the database is credible because of many years of neglect.
“What I intend to do is to make sure that we have a credible database so that pensioners that are being paid are the right ones.
“We have already partnered with ICPC. We have established an Anti-Corruption Unit (ACTU) in PTAD. What we are doing now is that we don’t make pension payment into any account without BVN. With this policy, we have dropped about 9,000 pensioners because they don’t have BVN.
“Without BVN presupposes that they are ghost because we inherited a lot of data that we cannot really verify. “This is why verification is important or key to us. We have only done two zones in Nigeria-the North-West and the South- East zones. We are just computing those ones now to be able to put them on the payroll and start paying.”
Ikeazor said her administration had out in place a zero tolerance policy against corruption in the management of pension.
She said: “I have already started putting the checks and balances in place. The first place I visited after I resumed was the EFCC to meet with the chairman of the anti-graft agency, Mr. Ibrahim Magu.
“There was an investigation that was carried out in PTAD that took off the last DG of PTAD and there were other officials indicted. My supervising ministry is the Ministry of Finance. The Minister of Finance got the report first and she wrote me to take action on those indicted. I gave them letters of termination of appointment. There were three of them.
“But the other two were civil servants who were posted or seconded to PTAD. The civil servants among them were posted back to the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation to take disciplinary action against them. And I attached the EFCC report.
“I have made is clear, it is zero tolerance in PTAD for corruption. I came into politics with my integrity intact, I will leave politics with my integrity intact. It is the same integrity I am carrying into PTAD. I keep a close watch on everything.”
On the plight of 450 former Biafran policemen who are yet to be reintegrated, Ikeazor said those concerned will soon be paid their entitlements and pension.
She added: “We have the issue of War Affected Pensioners. You know, ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo gave amnesty to Biafran soldiers and policemen in 2000.
“The military has taken care of the pension of the soldiers of the defunct Republic of Biafra who were granted amnesty. But majority of the policemen have not been paid.
“So, when I came in, they have now brought up the case before me and we are working on that for them to get their dues. One of the men said to me that this is what he has been waiting for before he dies. These men are in their 80s, some in their 90s. Majority of them are from the South-South and South
“I think they are about 450 policemen. I wish you could interview them, they brought tears into my eyes.
“The war is over, we have to reintegrate them. It is just like rebuilding the North-East now, we have to reintegrate these people from the South-South and South-East.”