…As House summons Okonjo-Iweala, Emefiele, Magu, IGP, others
By Samuel Ogidan & Gift Chapi Odekina
Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) yesterday revealed that it has recovered N20.2 billion in the five years it was established.
This is even as the House of Representatives summoned the former Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Chairman of Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT); Abdulrasheed Maina and other members, Head of Service of the Federation, Eyo Nta, incumbent Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, former Accountant General of the Federation, Jonah Otunla.
Others summoned to appear before it on Monday, 12th March, 2018 and explain their roles in the pension saga, are; acting Chairman, Economic & Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, his counterparts in the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris.
The Executive Secretary of PTAD, Sharon Ikpeazor, who revealed what the agency had recovered so far at the public hearing organised by the House Ad-hoc Committee investigating the activities of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reform from 2010 to the time of its dissolution and any other successor agency, called on the lawmakers to assist the agency to go after erring insurance companies withholding the several billions of Legacy Fund traced to them.
She threatened that PTAD will not hesitate to engage the service of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other law enforcement agencies to recover the Legacy Fund.
Giving the breakdown of the money recovered so far, she said that while N6.7billion legacy fund recovered is domicile in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), property worth N13.5 billion has also been recovered making a total of N20.2billion.
Narrating the history of PTAD, Ikpeazor said that the agency, which was established on the 13th of August, is responsible for the pension administration of the Defined Benefit Scheme (DBS), which are, the Civil Service Pension Department, the Police Pension Office and the Customs, Immigration and Prisons Pension Office (CIPPO).
She said that the agency, which was able to reduce the police pension liabilities from N16.501 billion to N7 billion after reconciliation, has saved the sum of N90.652 million monthly from police pension allowance, while N1.4 billion liabilities is yet to be offset.
Explaining to the lawmakers what the agency has done so far, the Executive Secretary said that PTAD inherited 18,370 pensioners from the old pension scheme, adding that due to its diligence was able to eliminate 3,324 pensioners, who did not show up for verification as at May 2015.
She said that as at October 2013, the agency collaborated with ICPC to collapse four pension accounts for ease of management, adding that the sum of N15.025 billion was domiciled in Zenith Bank; N2.483 billion domiciled in Union Bank; N720 million domiciled in UBA and N193.629 million domiciled in Access Bank as at October 2013.
“Total sum of N9.252 billion pooled from various defunct Customs, Prisons and Immigration pension account was used to pay N6.513 billion of the 42 months arrears of 33% pension arrears in June and August, 2016, leaving balance of N2.739 billion.
“Total sum of N26 billion Legacy Fund traced to all the Insurance Companies since, N20.3 billion has so far been recovered.
“N6.7 billion cash recovered has been domiciled with Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) while properties worth N13.5 billion is being re-valued by Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing.”
The lawmakers, who frowned at what is happening to the pension funds, alleged that funds and property running into several billions have been diverted and have not be accounted for.
The Chairman of the Ad-hoc Committee, Hon. Anayo Nnebe, while speaking, said that “over time, the pension administration in our dear country, has been characterized by manifest challenges of corruption, occasioned by poor administration, lack of transparency, near absence of data for pensioners and other setbacks, which incidences, unfortunately had been borne by men ad women who served their fatherland meritoriously.
“The aim, as it were, was to track and recover stolen public funds, with accompanying recommendations for punishment, where the need arose. It is public knowledge that the task force made huge recoveries from stolen and diverted funds and libraries, before ‘unresolved’ reports marred it’s activities.
“It is interesting to further note that most of the funds/properties purported to have been recovered by the Task Force, have not been fully accounted for by the agencies statutorily designated to warehouse such recoveries, on behalf of government.”
He, however said that the committee was constituted to witch hunt anybody, adding, “we are not here to witch hunt anybody, but at the same time not allow anybody to take this committee for granted.”
Also speaking, the Executive Director of Legislative Watch, Ngozika Ihioma, noted that the recovery of police pension fund worth N282 billion, prompted the Senate investigation into pension fund administration in 2013.
Ihioma, who alleged that Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has so far recovered total sum of N1.3 trillion from looted pension funds, when the President’s delegation met in Dubai, UAE, base on intelligence report, added that the defunct presidential task team on pension recovered and saved over N282 billion from two pension offices.
The Executive Director of Legislative Watch, who was a member of the Pension Reform Task Team chaired by Abdulrasheed Maina, said that “the defunct presidential task team on pension conducted biometric for over 170,000 pensioners; pioneered payment of pensioners in diaspora; recovered and saved over N282 billion from two pension offices; detected and deleted 73,000 ghost pensioners from Head of Service office and police pension office; discovered about 50,000 unpaid pensioners; stopped monthly stealing of N4.175 billion from the office of Head of Service of the Federation; saved N1 billion police pension monthly releases; detected fraud of over N2.7 billion by Nigerian Union of Pensioners as well as seized properties and cash worth N1.63 trillion.”
…As House summons Okonjo-Iweala, Emefiele, Magu, IGP, others