*Saving N159b from fraud was our offence
The Pension Reform task force has alleged that some officials of the Police Pension Office offered bribes to members of the team to cover up their fraud. When this would not work, they resorted to false publications buying up lead stories in newspapers.
Spokesman for the reform team, Mr. Hassan Salihu, said that the corrupt officials had decided to discredit the task force chairman, Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina, after he reported cases of graft to anti-corruption agencies.
According to Salihu, the fraud in police pension has been on for about 44 years, with officials and their collaborators amassing stupendous wealth running into three digit billions of Naira while the pensioners all over the country wallow in abject poverty after being denied their entitlements for years.
For years, policemen had risked their lives safe guarding the people and the nation. After retiring, they cannot get their pension. A few people sit down and steal their monies. The stoppage of this stealing is annoying some people who have sworn to stop the PRTT.
Saved N159billion from being stolen in one year: He said the team was able to save N159billion on assumption of duty in 2011, N74billion of which has been channelled to the 2012 budget.
Salihu added, “We have tried our best and clinched landmark achievements. For instance, we investigated and found out and caused the prosecution of two Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP) officials who were “using their bank accounts as a pipe to steal billions of pension funds.” They are standing trial for allegedly stealing N2.billion
73,133 ghost pensioners caught: The dark complexioned but bespectacled Salihu noted that his team deleted “about 73, 133 ghost pensioners” from the existing payroll where sometimes as much as 2,000 pensioners will have the same pin number.
Among the reasons given for the attacks against the task force team include arresting, investigation and prosecution of some pension staff who misappropriated over N125billion. The EFCC is currently prosecuting 43 individuals and companies in suit number FHC/ABJ/CR/28/2011 which has been amended and prosecution started de novo.
Others ‘offences’ we have committed include cracking down the fraudulent pension cartel cut across the country.
According to him, pension benefits have been made easily accessible, owing to the team’s mandate of blocking all loopholes that made payment of police pension a nightmare. This development, he explained, had exposed members of the team and their family members to threats from those he referred to as “pension cabal”.
The task force, under the leadership of Alhaji Abdulrasheed Maina, had claimed to have seized 222 properties from some of those standing trial in courts. The seized properties are worth N1.3trillion and cash seized from the alleged pension fraudsters are in excess of N251 billion.
The PRTT members: The team comprises the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), State Security Service (SSS), Office of the Accountant General of the Federation and the office of the Auditor General of the Federation.
Permanent Secretary with N12billion: According to the task force, a former director of the Pension Department, Office of the Head of Service was arrested, having found N12billion in his personal account, while N4billion was allegedly found in the personal account of his former deputy director who was also arrested, among other arrests.
This report was originally published on the 9th March 2013 by National Accord newspaper