Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
Retirees from the Nigeria Prison Service, under the umbrella body of Retired Prison Officers Association, on Tuesday, called on the Federal Government to remove paramilitary retirees from the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) Scheme as practiced all over the world.
They, however, stressed that in the alternative, the government should return those who have served 20 years and above before 1, June 2004 to the old pension scheme to ensure equity and balanced judgment.
The retirees, in an open “Save Our Souls” letter to President Muhammadu Buhari signed by the chairman of the association, Mr. A. O. Debuwa (DCP rtd) said, “it is important and appropriate to stress that we are not against the 2004/2014 Contributory Pension Act, but against the unwise and wrongly inclusion/implementation.
“Our grudge is hinged on the fact that paramilitary and workers employed before or who have served twenty years and above as at 1, June 2004 were not exempted from the scheme as was the case in Chile from where the scheme was copied from.
“Consequently, by our erroneous inclusion into PENCOM, we have little to contribute to cushion off our pension. Reason being that we have already exhausted the greater part of our service years in the old scheme where we ought to belong.
“The idea of exempting only those who have two years and less from PENCOM is utterly reprehensible and repressive because it is devoid of human face and in negation of principles of equity and fairness.
“The scheme was originally designed to manage contributions of employees and not their gratuities. As a result, we lost big chunk of our gratuities by merging it with the paltry contributions made within the remaining part of our service.
“Other glaring injustice worthy of note is the biased removal of the military and some paramilitaries from PENCOM leaving some. Military and Paramilitaries are exempted from the scheme world over except in Nigeria”.
The association said though the House of Representatives Pension Committee conducted a public hearing on the issue of removal on 28, September 2017, it lamented that till now, no report was issued.
They told President Buhari that most retirees under PENCOM receive less than 25 percent of their previous salaries contrary to PENCOM Act 2004.
“Non-payment of 33 and half percent arrears to PENCOM retirees is another pain despite the fact that since on 13, March 2018 Hon. Hassana Shekarau, Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Pension revealed that the Federal government has released the sum of N54 billion to PENCOM for payment of the arrears”,it said.