Recovered N380bn: Reps probe presidential pension task force
The House of Representatives, on Tuesday, resolved to revisit the activities of the defunct Presidential Task Team on Pension Reforms and the whereabouts of the over N380bn said to have been recovered between 2010 and 2013.
The task force was established in June 2010 primarily to track and recover pensions of all public service retirees.
A motion debated and passed by the House in Abuja, on Tuesday, indicated that the task force investigated both the police and Head of Service pension funds and recovered over N180bn from various banks.
The motion was moved by a member from Gombe State, Mr. Ali Isa-JC.
It noted that another N200bn was unaccounted for because the task force later became embroiled in controversies and allegations of looting.
Isa-JC stated that as a result of the controversies, the task force was dissolved by the Federal Government in 2013.
He recalled that nothing else was heard about the funds recovered by the task force and other successor agencies on pension funds.
Part of the motion reads, “The House is concerned that instead of the task force discharging its mandate, it became embroiled in widespread allegations of looting of pension funds and has been unable to account for more than N200bn as a result of which the task force was dissolved in February, 2013.
“Also aware that the task force took charge of the police and the Head of Service pension funds and that more than N180bn was alleged to have been recovered from various banks and also, that more than 75,000 ‘ghost’ pensioners were paid while genuine pensioners were left unattended to.
‘Also concerned that since the dissolution of the task force, the public has not been informed of what became of the billions of naira recovered by the task force.”
Tuesday’s session, which was presided over by the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, ordered the investigation to be concluded within six weeks by an ad hoc committee of the House.
In a separate resolution, lawmakers asked the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, to immediately release the outstanding balance of N15bn voted for the Presidential Amnesty Programme in the 2016 budget.
They observed that the non-release of the money had led to delayed payment of stipends to ex-Niger Delta militants and lack of funds to run some of the amnesty projects.
The House passed the resolution following a motion moved by the Minority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor.
Ogor, a Peoples Democratic Party member from Delta State, had told the House that tension was already building up in the region, which could lead to another round of security challenges in the area.
For example, he said 30,000 beneficiaries of the amnesty programme, who earned N65,000 monthly, were being owed arrears of five months.
On the Onshore Education programmes, Ogor informed the House that universities that ran the programmes were owed over N1.8bn, excluding another N830.5m as backlog of in-training allowances.
The motion gave more details, “The Educational Programme (Offshore) is suffering the same fate as unpaid in-training allowances for 750 students between 2016 and 2017, are US$4,200,000.00 (equivalent of N1,332,000,000.00); tuition fee for 350 students, amounting to US$17,500,000.00 (equivalent of N5,512,500,000.00).
“Concerned that 70 per cent of the 637 students in various institutions in 27 countries, who are expected to graduate at the end of the 2016/2017 academic year, may not be able to do so for non-payment of tuition fees.
“Currently, more than 80 per cent of them have been excluded from studies and if the tuition fees are not settled, it may lead to their having to repeat the whole academic session, thus compounding the financial burden.
“Also concerned that 100 graduates are currently stranded in the United States of America, Malaysia, United Kingdom and South Africa, waiting for their October 2016 to January 2017 allowances to enable them to settle their bills and return to Nigeria.”