Imo retirees protest against non-payment of pensions, beg alms in Owerri

Hope Uzodimma

Assembly, IBC workers reject pay cut, FG releases ex-police officers’ benefits

Imo State pensioners yesterday protested against non-payment of their five-month pensions since Governor Hope Uzodimma assumed office in January. They also protested against non-payment of entitlements of some of their members for over 80 months, even before former Governor Emeka Ihedioha assumed office in May last year.

However, the police allegedly prevented the retirees who convened at the Imo International Convention Centre (IICC), Owerri from gaining entrance to the centre to carry out their protests effectively.

Some of the protesters carried placards to ask alms on the streets of Owerri, saying it was better for them to beg openly as Governor Uzodimma was yet to give directives for the payments.

They argued that begging alms would enable them to remain alive and take their case to the “court of public opinion.”The placards bore the inscriptions, “We Are Dying; Pay Us Our Pension; We Can No Longer Bear The Suffering; It Is Better To Beg On The Streets And Allow The People Know How We Are Suffering In The Hands Of This Administration; Ihedioha Administration Verified Us And Paid Us Regularly Before He Left Office and Why Can’t This Administration Continue From There?”

One of the retirees, John Igwe, told The Guardian that they were being dehumanised by the Uzodimma administration, wondering why after spending their youthful age in the civil service, they should be suffering at old age, saying some of them died without receiving their pensions.

On her part, Mrs. Ngozi Ikpe said the best option was for them to beg on the streets and explain to the people how the state government was maltreating them over their entitlements.

But reacting, Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba, insisted that there was so much fraud in the pensions system, adding that the state government was sanitising the system and urged the retirees to submit their Bank Verification Numbers (BVN) and account details to enable the government to carry out thorough verification.

Besides, employees of the state House of Assembly and the Imo Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) have protested against alleged 47 per cent cut in their salaries.

They urged Governor Uzodimma to restore their pay according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Act 1990 (article 10: 13), which Nigeria is a signatory.

IBC workers said of the five months owed them, only two months had been paid, stressing that they were paid 50 per cent of their total emoluments each month, warning that they would resist further cuts in payment.

The Assembly workers under the aegis of the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN), Imo chapter, expressed displeasure after their emergency meeting at which a participant told The Guardian that they were not happy over the slash, which affected the Clerk, directors and other top officers.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has released the benefits of Imo State police officers who retired between January and March this year. A statement issued by the command’s Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Orlando Godson Ikeokwu, urged affected officers to go to the branch offices of their Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) to access their benefits.

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