ARFESPON faults FG for slashing retirees’ pensions

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The Association of Retired Federal Senior Public Officers of Nigeria has faulted the Federal Government of arbitrarily slashing the pension increment for the pensioners from 53.4 per cent to 20.4 per cent.

During a press briefing in Lagos, the Chairman, Lagos branch, ARFESPON, Mr Olufemi Odewabi, said the association in 2015, wrote a letter to the presidency on some issues affecting the federal pensioners.

He said, “The 2010 approval of 53.4 per cent general increase in salary for workers was revised by the then Secretary to the Government, leading to an unconstitutional deduction of 20.4 per cent out of the 53.4 per cent. Up till now, pensioners are paid 33 per cent increase.”

While speaking on the 2010 approval of 53.4 per cent for workers and the anti-constitutional deduction of 20.4 per cent, he said, “In 2010, former President Goodluck Jonathan approved in accordance to the Constitution of Nigeria, the increase in the salaries of workers to 53.4 per cent.

“It was discovered that the supposed pension increase was reviewed to 33 per cent through the office of the then Secretary to the Government, based on direct deduction of housing, tax etc., which is not in line with the provision of the Constitution section 173 (2-4) inter alia.”

Section 2, he explained, stated that any benefit to which a person was entitled in accordance with or under such law, was referred to in sub-section (1) of this section should not be withheld or altered to his disadvantage, except to such extent as was permissible under any law, including the code of conduct.

Part of the section, he added, stated that pension should be reviewed every five years or together with any federal civil service review, whichever was earlier.

He also said that the law stated that pensions in respect of service in the public service of the federation should not be taxed.

He added that the review of the approved pension paid to pensioners did not portray the corresponding provision stated in the constitution.

Another problem that might rise from this action, he noted, would be a wrong placement of pensioners now that the government was introducing a new minimum wage.

“Our prayers your excellency is your consideration to approve the payment of the 20.4 per cent illegal deduction, so that pensioners are not perpetually shortchanged,” Odewabi said.

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