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FG pays N16bn pension monthly •Confiscates 800 fake accounts

THE Pension Transition Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) has reduced monthly pension liabilities of the Federal Government to N16 billion.

Acting Director-General of PTAD, Mr Muritala Oluwatoyin, who spoke with newsmen at the weekend, also disclosed that over two years accumulated pension arears had already been paid since he took over in March this year.

Oluwatoyin added that PTAD has closed thousands of fake accounts across many banks and details of such accounts had been handed over to the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) for further investigation and possible prosecution.

“Our pension liabilities keep reducing every month. Presently, we have been able to pay part of the 33 per cent arrears being owed pensioners. I have paid all outstanding 33 per cent increment arrears for those in the paramilitary services from the savings we are making.

“We have updated the records, we have their files and we have done so many of them, and more are still coming. As at last week, we added 178 pensioners with complaints and we paid their arrears,” he disclosed.

Similarly, Oluwatoyin said although the register of civil service pensioners was yet to be tidied up, “I have paid 12 months’ arrears and I am still planning to pay another 12 months very soon.

“For parastatals, we have been able to pay 12 months, but we have issue of records with them. Before they were unbundled to us, some of the trust funds have been paying them; so now, we are asking for information on how much they have been paid. Once that is done, we will move ahead.”

He noted that all the regular pension payment and payment of arrears were being done from the normal funds.

“There have been no additional fund released to us. We make the savings from ghost names we have been able to remove from the payroll. In one particular week, we closed about 800 different accounts in one day from various banks which we passed to ICPC for investigation,” he said.

Speaking on former Director-General of PTAD, Ms Nellie Mayshak, who was suspended in March on allegations of pilfering, Oluwatoyin said the case was still with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

“I don’t like beating a fallen horse. If the EFCC decides to make its findings public concerning the investigation of the former Director-General, it will be its decision. She has been busy trying to exonerate herself through newspaper writings, but EFCC has not made any statement.

“And it is not for me to pronounce her guilty or innocent either. But she shouldn’t have been referred to EFCC in the first place if there was no prima facie case against her. But I am mindful of the image of PTAD as an organisation and do not want to run it down.

“We are trying to make the agency responsive and dignified, and I should not be seen to be running down an organisation I am heading. However, we have already documented what happened and forwarded them to the EFCC. I told you that we had issues with data and record-keeping and those are some of the things she is being accused of.

“And these are issues for which contracts were awarded and never executed. These are some of the things we sent to EFCC. The question she should answer is whether those contracts were executed. Those are the issues, but I do not want to dwell on them since we have handed them over to EFCC.

“We should just draw a line and move forward. That is why we have been quiet on our end. It is left for EFCC and herself to clear themselves,” he said.

While warning pensioners to be wary of scammers, the acting Director-General also said they should also refrain from greed.

“We have placed several adverts, warning pensioners from patronising touts and also against paying money to anybody to help them process their papers. We also have call centres for people to make direct enquiries.

“And when you hear the way they present the issues, if you are logical and not greedy, you shouldn’t fall victim. For instance, if someone tells you that PTAD is about to pay you N10 million, you are supposed to know if you are entitled to that amount in the first place,” he said.