By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna
Hues and cries have continued over huge unremitted funds deducted under employers – employees contributory pension scheme running into billions of Naira in Niger State even as the stolen funds are believed to have been siphoned into private pockets in the last few years.
State and local governments employees including civil servants and teachers under the employ of local governments and the state’s Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), are crying foul over their stolen contributions meant to have been kept in the common basket for pension.
The state government was forced to conduct a forensic audit of the transactions and accounts of the state Universal Basic Education Board for which a whopping N5.7779 billion was said to have been stolen and remitted into the accounts of the pension board as the contributions of the teachers since 2007.
The quantum of monies pilfered and stolen from the public till by opportuned persons in government may yet be discovered even as more of such absurdities are are still being perpetrated.
The recent expositions of a large scale scam and misappropriation at the state office of the Sustainable Development Goals, (SDG) involving over N1.2 billion and the alleged scam in pension funds for which protests by concerned retired public service workforce have been pointers to a huge syndicated theft of public wealth and savings by workers for their retirement benefits.
Worried by the development, the State House of Assembly at plenary on Thursday, asked the state government to be hard and decisive on those who had deeped their hands in siphoning pension funds.
The lawmakers in a motion, said any government official found to have colluded with anybody to shortchange and circumvent the new contributory pension scheme to cheat should be summarily be delt with.7
While the the lawmakers sat to deliberate on a new contributory pension scheme which was eventually passed by the House on Thursday, aggrieved persons under the eagis of Association of New Pensioners had converged at the entrance gate of the Assembly complex to protest against the none payment of their pension entitlements.
The protesters also complained that their deducted 7.5% monthly contributions under the old contributory pension scheme of the state be refunded to them forthwith.
Concerns had mounted in recent times that the funds that had accrued from the collections of the contributory scheme may have been stolen.
But Speaker of the House, Hon. Ahmed Marafa while allaying the fears of pensioners in the state, assured that every kobo of the funds would be accounted for.
The state Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello had earlier in the week assured that every kobo of the N5.779 billion missing from the deducted teachers’ salaries and meant as their contributions to the pension funds would be recouped and refunded to them.
The state government has however kept to it’s chest, the identities and names of those found to have helped themselves with the teachers pension funds.