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Kwara: 9,030 shortchanged pensioners appeal to gov

Pensioners numbering over 9,000 in Kwara State have appealed to Governor AbdulRahman Abdul- Razaq to passionately look into their plight by approving the payment of their outstanding N1.68 billion gratuity owed them since 2008 when former Senate President Bukola Saraki was governor. Addressing journalists in Ilorin, the state capital, spokesman of the Concerned Pensioners, Comrade Ayobamdele Ajibola, lamented that many of the pensioners, who retired between 1967 and 1999, had died, while several others are incapacitated without money to go to hospital or buy drugs.

Ajibola said: “It would be recalled that the Kwara state government under Dr. Bukola Saraki, former Senate President, agreed in 2098 to pay our outstanding pension arrears and gratuities. They compiled names of the deserving recipients made up of 9,030 called accredited pensions. The government announced that it would require N3.3 billion to defray all our outstanding pension arrears and gratuities. Government approached the defunct Intercontinental Bank for a loan of N3.3 billion, which was granted and collected by government.

“To our chagrin, instead of paying the total lump sum to us, the Bukola Saraki admin-istration paid us 50 per cent and came out with a purported written agreement signed by the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Nigeria Union of Pensioners officials without any recourse to the affected pensioners, to the effect that government would be paying 50 per cent of the amount payable to each pensioner, while the remaining 50 per cent would be used to develop the state. “Government wrongly came up with a position that the 50 per cent paid us was a total settlement of our money and that the matter was therefore closed permanently.

“The Bukola Saraki government did not take cognisance of the fact that pension is a right, like salary, and it cannot be spent, deducted or withheld on behalf of recipients by any organisation or body whatsoever without the consent of individuals involved as was illegally and cruelly done in this case. “There is no where that the 9,030 accredited pensioners gave out 50 per cent of our entitlements either by signing up or subscribing to any memorandum of understanding to that effect.

So, it is wrong, illegal and mischievous for government to have claimed that the NLC and NUP signed on behalf of the pensioners because pension arrears and gratuities are not labour related matters that would warrant them signing agreement on behalf of deserving pensioners.”

Dissatisfied with the confiscation of their entitlements, Ajibola said they had to approach the law court even to the Supreme Court for adjudication. He said they won at the Appeal Court, but government appealed the case at the Supreme Court, which asked them to start the case at the High Court, adding that they were now at the apex court hoping that justice would be done.

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