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Contributory pension scandal: EFCC’s probe of sacked PenCom DG underway

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By Dotun Akintomide

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is currently investigating several allegations of corruption levelled against the Ex- Director General of the National Pension Commission (PenCom), Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu sacked last week by President Muhammadu Buhari alongside 22 others, Nigerian NewsDirect had confirmed.

Nigerian NewsDirect findings showed that the allegations levelled against Anohu-Amazu include alleged diversion of First Guarantee Pensions Limited (FGPL) Portfolio into one Premium Pensions, owned by her mother and managed by her family; her refusal to process gratuities and pension payment of retirees in the Federal Civil Service for the past 7 years, since 2010.

Also, among several other allegations was the unprofessional conduct and lack of proper regulations by PenCom under her watch leading to apathy and slow adoption of the 2014 Pension Reform Act by state governments which had continued to pilfer workers’ Pension fund without remitting their own quota to the fund as mandated under Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) arrangement with fewer than 10 states implementing the CPS in the country.

Recently, the League of Federal Public Service Contributory Pension Retirees disclosed through a petition that the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) has caused its members misery as they are broke after retirement.

The Coordinator of the League, Chike Ogbechie, lamented that retirees who left public service since January 2010 are suffering as their pension benefits were yet to be paid.

The retirees said the anticipated benefits of the contributory pension scheme had turned to a mirage.

Similarly, in an exclusive interview with Nigerian NewsDirect, the Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in Ogun State, Comrade Akeem Ambali had indicted the National Pension Commission (PenCom) of failure in its statutory responsibility to regulate the high level of pension funds’ mismanagement going on across states.

“Well, we have protested to PenCom which is the regulatory agency and we alleged them of collaboration and negligence on their part. The law states within two weeks of collection, funds must be remitted to the PFAs and the state governments asides Lagos had acted in breach of that law provision and PenCom had kept mum, despite several petitions written to them to protest this action.

“Not until recently we are planning to organize an interactive session between NLC and PenCom to come and explain to workers the reason their monies were deducted and not remitted, yet they kept silent. As the national regulatory agency, PenCom is supposed to impose penalty on those who erred,” he said.

Also, the Commission had also been criticized for violating the rule of law and disregarding court orders under its previous boss over the takeover of First Guarantee Pension Limited (FGPL) despite several court orders calling on PenCom to suspend its impunity on the company since 2012.

The Vice-Chairman of FGPL, Eze Duru had continued to accuse the sacked DG of using the PFA to divert money to her family firm, Premium Pensions.

“I know he won’t be disobeying orders of the court and he will carry his industry stakeholders along. I believe he will obey court orders especially with respect to First Guarantee Pension that has become a cesspool of corruption in the industry,” Duru said recently, while reacting to the appointment of the incoming DG, Aliyu Dikko in an interview.

Meanwhile, reports   that the DSS raided PenCom’s headquarters in Abuja on Saturday in a bid to apprehend the sacked DG was denied by top officials of DSS..

Another source in DSS explained that the operatives were only maintaining surveillance   within the offices of PENCOM to prevent backdating and doctoring of documents.

Though, the PenCom’s spokesperson, Mr. Emeka when contacted through his mobile line failed to confirm the raid to Nigerian NewsDirect, saying he only heard it in the news.

“The same way you heard and related the story to me now, that was how I also heard and read it in the news, but I can’t confirm it now,” he simply said.

The EFCC spokesman, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren disclosed to Nigerian NewsDirect in a telephone conversion on Sunday night that he would not want to comment much on the allegations of corruption and mismanagement levelled against the sacked DG, so as not to bungle the ongoing investigation regarding the matter.

His words: “Have you ever heard of EFCC bungling an ongoing investigation, so how do you expect us as a law enforcement agency to reveal our plan?”

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