From Steve Oko, Umuahia
Commissioner for Finance, Dr. Aham Uko, has distanced himself from the arrest of leaders of Concerned Abia Pensioners who were planning to stage a protest over pension arrears on Thursday.
Chief Daniel Amugo, and Mr. Chukwuemeka Augustus, Chairman, and Secretary of the group were both arrested by the police while the senior citizens were converging for the peaceful protest.
Vice Chairman of the group, Elder John Kalu had told newsmen Thursday that the arrested pensioners were invited for a parley by the Commissioner only to be arrested after the meeting .
According to him a highly -placed government official had contacted the Commissioner on phone during the said meeting with the pensioners and informed him that he was on his way to the venue of the meeting.
He said that shortly after the phone conversation some police men accosted the pensioners on their way and whisked them away.
Commissioner of Police , Ene Okon had when contacted told newsmen that the petitioners’ leaders were arrested for impersonation following a petition that they were impersonating the state leadership of Nigeria Union of Pensioners, NUP.
The Police boss who spoke through the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Geoffrey Ogbonna, said they were being investigated.
Other pensioners numbering about 50 who had turned out for the peaceful protest vowed never to leave the State Police Headquarters until their leaders were released.
But in a press statement on Friday the Commissioner who had earlier denied any involvement in the saga distanced himself from the said meeting.
In the statement he personally signed, Dr. Uko said he did not hold any meeting with pensioners nor order their arrest .
The Commissioner who said the state government had already stepped up efforts to ensure regular payment of pensions added that there was no basis to order for the arrest of any pensioner.
He therefore, urged members of the public to disregard his alleged involvement in the saga insisting that he had no hands in it.
The release read in part : “My attention has been drawn to publications in a section of the media alleging that I met with a group of pensioners on Thursday, January 23, 2020 , in my office, and subsequently invited security agents to arrest them.
“I wish to state, without fear of contradiction, that I did not meet with the said pensioners and never ordered the arrest of any of them.
“I was involved in meetings outside my office on the said day and only read about the purported meeting with the pensioners from the media.
“It is important to point out that following the directive of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, we have prioritized regular payment of pensioners to ensure that they receive their due along with other workers in the state every month.
“There is therefore no basis for me to order the arrest of any pensioner or any other law abiding Abian for that matter.”