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Pensions Scheme: Retired Police Officers Protest At NASS …Accuse IGP, Others Of Mismanaging Fund

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Police retirees under the Contributory Pensions Scheme, yesterday, embarked on another protest over the alleged lack of equity in the scheme.
The police retirees converged at the gates of the National Assembly to push home their earlier demand to be exited from the scheme.
The officers had in April taken their protest to the National Assembly when they made similar demands in a form of a petition which received the blessings of the Senate following which an investigative hearing of their petition was carried out.
They also accused the Inspector General of Police, Baba Alkali, and the management team of aiding and abetting the alleged fraudulent mismanagement of the fund which they claim is being diverted to private pockets.
The retirees said based on their findings, the IGP and the management team have been foot-dragging in proposing a bill to the National Assembly to exempt the police from the Contributory Pension Scheme.
Part of their text made available to journalists read, “It would surprise you to hear that till date, the IGP has refused to comply with the advice given, instead, he mandated the DIG, Sanusi Lemu to join the NPF Pension Ltd marketing team to go on marketing campaigns against the exit of the Police from Contributory Pension Scheme.
“DIG Sanusi’s action violates Section 4 of Police Act which highlights the constitutional duties of a police officer. As contrary as this was, another crafty aspect of the act was a hired crowd that was induced with N10,000.00 and souvenir each to gather and pose as retired police officers to enable them make a clip for a press release to the effect that our genuine agitation was political and not supported by the generality of police retirees.”
The angry ex-officers recalled that the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan, had ordered an investigative hearing of their petition since June 2, under the Chairmanship of the Deputy Senate Committee on Police Affairs, Senator Ibrahim Abdullahi Danbaba, which outcome, the IGP was unwilling to abide by three months after.
The group said, regrettably, the Inspector General of Police rather directed the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), Sanusi Lemu, to join the NPF Pension Ltd marketing to embark on a false campaign, stating that exiting from the Contributory Pension Scheme was not in the interest of retires and serving police officers.
The retirees wondered how the IGP and his management team would allow their pecuniary interests, overwhelm the thousands of retirees, saying that it was the police officers’ fund that was used to set up the capital base of NPF Pension Ltd.
The ex-officers expressed confidence that the National Assembly will intervene by amending the Act to do away with the flaws and those clauses that are inconsistent with the supreme law and further demanded that:
“The exemption clause in the Pension Reform Act should be expanded to include the Nigeria Police Force which is the leading agency in internal security in this country.
“All police retirees who enlisted into the force before the birth of the CPS in 2004 should be exempted CPS and the 300% of their annual salary be paid to them as gratuity and 80% of their last monthly salary be paid to them as pension as specified under the defines benefits scheme under which condition they enlisted into the force.”
The chairman of the Cross Rivers State chapter of the Nigeria Police Retirees Under Contributory Pension Scheme, Christopher Effiong, who coordinated the protest on behalf of other chapters said, the IGP’s lukewarm attitude has justified their earlier findings that their pension was being fraudulently diverted into private pockets.
He alleged that they were being cheated by the pension managers and some serving senior Police officers, which the National Assembly has since directed the IGP to forward a bill.
“We are here to reiterate our former appeal to the National Assembly to exit us from the Contributory Pensions Scheme for which we were coerced.
“We want to exit, we don’t want it again. We would rather prefer to return to the defined benefit scheme controlled by the Nigeria police pension board where our pension and gratuity would be paid. We are pleading that they should exit us from the Contributory Pensions Scheme.
“As experts and professionals in different fields that we were trained, if we are utilized properly we are a major asset to Nigeria as a nation especially these days of insecurity and terrorism.
“When such well-trained officers are treated with such disdain they can be hijacked to carry out some activities that would not be very good for the government of this country.
“We have bomb experts, anti-bomb and terrorism experts, we have highly trained intelligence officers among us.
“Government has to keep us somewhere to pacify us because in more civilised nations retired officers like us are kept as a reserved force.
“Anytime you have challenges you fall back and get ideas from us to get things right but here in Nigeria after we have suffered they have abandoned us”.
Offiong lamented that a police inspector who spent 35 years in service and retired would be paid a paltry sum of N785,284.40 and will be taking N22,000 as monthly pension, while an ASP retiree is currently paid N16,000 monthly, a situation he described as homicidal.
“Let them pay us debarment allowance, exit us from Contributory Pension Scheme. These are the two requests we are making that National Assembly should help us.”
Meanwhile, a bill for an Act to amend the Pension Reform Act 2014 so as to exempt the Nigeria Police Force from the Contributory Pension Scheme has passed second reading.
Sponsored by Rep Francis Waive (APC-Delta), the bill was read for the second time on the floor of the House of Representatives, yesterday, in Abuja.
Leading the debate, Waive stated that the bill sought to amend Section 5, Sub-Section 1 paragraph (a) of the Pension Reform Act of 2014.
According to him, this will include the Nigerian Police Force as part of the categories of persons exempted from the Contributory Pension Scheme, which presently include members of the Armed Forces, the intelligence and secret services of the federation.
The lawmaker said that the Nigerian Police was brought under the current pension scheme by former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration.
He said that Obasanjo modelled the country’s Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) after the Chilean ‘Chilere’ pension scheme, which exempted both the armed forces and the police from the scheme.
Waive said, “Unfortunately, in adopting the same model, he brought the police under the Nigerian Contributory Pension scheme, while exempting the military and other intelligence agencies”.
The lawmaker said that the Nigeria Police Pensions Limited emanated from a Presidential approval that was aimed at enhancing the welfare of serving and retired police officers.
“Consequent upon the approval, the National Pension Commission (PENCOM), was in 2012 directed to guide the police towards the establishment of a Nigeria Police Pension Fund Administrator”.
This, according to him, was in order to remain within the Contributory Pension Scheme and to address all other areas of concern on welfare and pension matters.
He, however, alleged that operating under the current pension scheme had been both unpalatable and regrettable for the retirees of the Nigerian Police Force.
The police, being the front line security agency in the country, were exposed to dangers day and night more than the other security agencies and as such deserved better treatment during and after service.
“For example, the highest retirement benefit of a Deputy Superintendent of Police under this obnoxious pension scheme is N2.5million.
“That of Assistant Superintendent of Police is N1.5million, while their equivalent in Army (captain) and DSS are paid N12.8million and N10.3million, respectively,” he said.
In his contribution, Hon Uzoma Abonta (PDP-Abia), said that other security agencies should also benefit from the exemption.
An overwhelming majority of the lawmakers agreed with the sponsor of the bill, enabling it to scale second reading.

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2023: Opobo/Nkoro Agog As Thousands Join PDP

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It was celebration galore in Opobo Town, headquarters of Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area of Rivers State as thousands of members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Labour Party (LP), the Social Democratic Party (SDP), and National Conscience Party (NCP), among others, joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Speaking while receiving the decampee, yesterday, in Opobo Town, the state Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Amb Desmond Akawor, described their action as wise decision, assuring them of their safety and support.
Akawor, who was represented at the colourful event by his Deputy, Chukwuemeka Aaron, urged the defectors to remain calm as the PDP, the only development-oriented political party, believes in equity, unity, fair play and justice in Nigeria, saying that the party was poised to build better transformational governance that would be a beneficial to all Rivers people.
He said that it was shameful for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to subject Nigerians to poverty, bad governance, sufferings and hardship, and described the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari as a ruined government with clear negative agenda that lacked quality governance for the well-being of the people.
On the 2023 general election, Akawor enjoined the defectors to join forces with the PDP to chase out APC for good by remaining loyal and supportive towards PDP victory at the polls both in the state and at the federal level.
Akawor warned that any attempt to rig the votes in the 2023 elections would create more hunger, stagnation, poverty and death in the land.
Responding, a former chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and decampee in the area, Dr. Promise Diri pledged to ensure the victory of Amaopusenibo Siminialayi Fubara as successor to Governor Nyesom Wike and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as president in 2023, among other PDP Candidates, describing the emergence of the duo of Fubara and Atiku as God’s divine order for Rivers State and Nigeria.
Others who spoke to The Tide, described PDP as the largest development-minded political party in Nigeria, and thanked Rivers State Governor, Chief NyesomWike, and the entire PDP family for giving the governorship ticket to Opobo son.
They assured of 100 percent victory of Fubara and other candidates of the party come 2023 polls both in Rivers State.
Also speaking, Chief Ibiwari Jeremiah, said he was happy for the party whose transform agenda for the past seven years has remained remarkable, and pledged to woo more supporters for the PDP in next year’s election.
In her remarks, one of the decampee, Madam Matilda Jaja, commended Governor Nyesom Wike’s leadership qualities and charisma ,which she said, helped produce quality services in all the hooks and crannies of the state, and stressed that she would use her capacity to mobilise for votes in 2023 for PDP, adding that victory was sure in 2023 for the party’s candidates in the elections.

By: Bethel Toby

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Reps Probe 12-Year Remittances, Withdrawals From Ecological Fund

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The House of Representatives has resolved to investigate remittances to the Ecological Fund and withdrawals from the account between 2010 and 2022, alleging mismanagement of funds by the beneficiaries.
Particularly, the House mandated its Committee on Ecological Fund to “investigate the total consolidated mandatory accruals into the Ecological Fund from 2010 to March, 2022,” adding that the committee should equally “evaluate the disbursement of the Ecological Fund in line with the provision of the 1999 Constitution from 2010 to March, 2022.”
The committee is also to “investigate the utilisation of the Ecological Fund by benefiting government’s departments and agencies (MDAs) from 2010 to March, 2022 and establish infractions (if any).”
To establish these facts, the House asked the committee to conduct public hearings with all the major stakeholders on the effective and efficient utilisation of the Ecological Fund and report back within six weeks for further legislative action.
These resolutions were sequel to a motion moved by a member of the House, Femi Bamisile, titled, ‘Need to Investigate the Total Consolidation Accrual and Utilisation of Ecological Fund.’
Bamisile, while in the motion, noted the existence of the Ecological Fund as an intervention fund set up by the Federal Government to address multifarious ecological challenges across the country.
He also noted that the Federal Government, the 36 states of the federation, the 774 local government areas and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) receive funds through the Federal Allocation Committee as shares from the Ecological Fund.
The lawmaker stressed that apart from the annual statutory appropriations, four agencies of the Federal Government draw funds from the one per cent share of the Federal Government allocated to Ecology and Derivation Fund, according to their respective enabling laws.
Bamisile stated that the National Emergency Management Agency, by virtue of Section 13(2) (b) of its Act, draws 20per cent; National Agency for the Great Green Wall, by virtue of Section 12 (2) (b) of its Act, draws 15per cent; the North East Development Commission, by virtue of Section 14(12) (b) of its Act, draws 10 per cent; and the National Agricultural Land Development Authority, by virtue of Section 18 (2) (a) of its Act, draws 10per cent.
He said, “The House is worried that efforts at making beneficiaries of the Ecological Fund accountable for their accrued shared funds in the last few years have been ignored. Sections 88 and 89 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) empowers the National Assembly to conduct investigation and power as to matters of evidence.”

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Organ Harvesting Charges UK Court Denies Ekweremadu, Wife Bail

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A magistrate’s court in London has denied bail to Senator Ike Ekweremadu, and his wife, Beatrice Nwanneka, over charges that they trafficked a 15-year-old Lagos boy with the intention to harvest his organ.
The arrest was announced by the London Metropolitan Police, yesterday, with officials saying that the couple would be charged promptly before a court in Uxbridge.
Ekweremadu appeared before a magistrate, yesterday afternoon, and was denied bail.
The case was subsequently adjourned until July 7, after the child involved was identified as a homeless 15-year-old from Lagos.
However, details of the alleged offence of Senator Ike Ekweremadu, and his wife, Beatrice Nwanneka, were unveiled, yesterday, as they were accused of plotting to traffic a homeless child from Lagos into the UK to harvest his organs.
The court heard the couple, who have four children and a house in Willesden, North London, hoped to transplant the boy’s organs to their daughter who suffers from kidney failure.
Police were alerted to potential offences under modern slavery laws last month and arrested the couple two days ago at Heathrow Airport as they attempted to board a plane to Turkey, the court heard.
Ekweremadu, 60, is said to have had £20,000 on him at the time of his arrest, according to prosecutors.
The child is now under the care of safeguarding authorities and the Metropolitan Police, officials say.
Ekweremadu, and accountant wife, Beatrice, 55, are charged with conspiracy to arrange or facilitate travel of another person with a view to exploitation, namely organ harvesting.
The senator was wearing a grey sweater while his wife was wearing a black and white knitted cardigan at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court, yesterday.
Prosecutor Damla Ayas said: “It is conspiracy in relation to human trafficking offences for the purposes of organ harvesting. The victim in this case is 15 years old.
“They (the couple), were interviewed at the police station. Both of the defendants have provided a prepared statement.
“Mr Ekweremadu, in his prepared statement, denied allegations of human trafficking.
“He said at no stage has he arranged transport for anyone with intention to exploit them.”
His wife similarly denied the allegations in her prepared statement, the court heard.
Counsel to Ekweremadu, Gavin Irwin, said: “There is no question this is a serious allegation. Mr Ekweremadu is a member of the Senate in Nigeria.
“He has previously held an even more senior role as deputy president of the Senate.
“He is a member of the bar in Nigeria. He is a principal in a law firm that bears his name.
“Those issues taken together go way beyond him being a person of good character…rather that he has led a blameless life as a public servant.”
Irwin added that the allegations were “nothing short of preposterous”.
Also speaking, Counsel for Mrs Ekweremadu, Antonia Gray, said: “She has never been complicit or involved in any alleged illegal trafficking of any young person.
“She is a financial accountant with an unblemished record.”
The couple have an address they could stay at in Willesden, northwest London, the court heard.
The prosecutor made an application to adjourn the matters for 14 days.
Ms Ayas said: “In respect of these offences, Attorney General’s consent is required and the Crown requires 14 days for that to be obtained.”
Magistrate Lois Sheard said: “These are serious allegations and these matters are now adjourned until July 7, back here at Uxbridge.”
Ms Sheard remanded both defendants into custody ahead of their hearing next month.
The Ekweremadus are charged with “conspiring to arrange or facilitate travel of another person with a view to exploitation….between August 1, 2021 and May 5, 2022 within the jurisdiction of Central Criminal Court”.
The investigation was launched by the Met’s Specialist Crime team after detectives were alerted to potential offences under modern slavery legislation in May, 2022.
The Met Police has confirmed that the boy is safe and being looked after.
Mr Ekweremadu was held with Nwanneka Ekweremadu in Britain this month.
Ekweremadu has been an elected senator in Abuja since 2003 after moving into politics after years as a lawyer.
His wife, five years his junior, is an academic and doctor, and also a major public figure in Nigeria.
They are believed to have four adult children.
The Metropolitan Police has said that the child, who is under the age of 18, at the centre of the alleged plot, is in care.
Organ harvesting involves removing parts of the body, often for cash and against the victim’s will.
Ekweremadu has been in the UK for, at least, the past fortnight having met with members of the Nigerian community in Britain in Lincoln around 10 days ago.
He tweeted: “It was a pleasure and an honour to receive a letter of appointment by the University of Lincoln, UK, as Visiting Professor of Corporate and International Linkages. I also got a highly treasured gift – a copy of the Magna Carter. It was created in 1215, about 807 years ago”.
The investigation was launched after detectives were alerted to potential offences under modern slavery legislation in May, 2022, the force said.
Spokesman for Ekweremadu, Uche Anichukwu, confirmed that his principal had been held in the UK.

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