There are indications that the whereabouts of the billions of naira contributed over the years by workers of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) in their in-house operated pension scheme may soon begin to emerge.
This, investigation revealed is as a result of the discovery that officials of the electricity company and its various labour unions may have diverted funds into a separate account.
Documents obtained by THISDAY in Abuja Tuesday revealed that officials of the in-house PHCN unions: National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) and Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP) in collaboration with the Senior Staff Association of Statutory Corporations and Government-owned Companies (SSASCGC) may have in July 2005 incorporated a new company named the Nigerian Electricity Power Authority (NEPA) Superannuation Fund Limited to replace the hitherto NEPA Superannuation Fund.
The documents indicated that the unions had in line with the Companies and Allied Matters Decree 1990 registered NEPA Superannuation Fund Limited with a share capital of 10 million units in value of N1 per share to carry on the businesses, acts, deeds or contracts that were hitherto performed by the NEPA Superannuation Fund.
Accordingly, the unions had in ratification of their actions, passed a special resolution which they sent to the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) indicating that its board of directors had on September 8, 2005 at an extraordinary meeting passed a resolution to that effect.
The resolutions which were contained in the document they sent to CAC stated inter alia: “That all acts, deeds, negotiations, contracts, agreements and transactions entered into, carried out and being undertaken by and for NEPA Superannuation Fund prior to the incorporation of the NEPA Superannuation Fund Limited be and is hereby ratified.
“That all such acts, deeds, negotiations, contracts, agreements and transactions are henceforth the acts, deeds, negotiations, contracts, agreements and transactions of NEPA Superannuation Fund Limited and shall be of the same effect as if NEPA Superannuation Fund Limited had been a party to it in the place of NEPA Superannuation Fund.
“That this resolution be filed at the Corporate Affairs Commission.”
It was also discovered that all the unions, NUEE, SSASCGC as well as NUP had variously held emergency executive meetings between July 5, 2005 to ratify the incorporation of the company and had also nominated persons to represent and take custody of shares of the company on their behalves.
In the document, Mr. Moses Olaniyi Olotu, Mr. Timothy Olufemi Akintola and Vincent Mamudu, were all nominated to subscribe for the Memorandum and Article of Association of the NEPA Superannuation Fund Limited on behalf of NUP, SSASCGC and NUEE respectively; the trio had also signed to hold shares worth N1.4 million, N1.3 million and N1.3 million each as directors in the company alongside PHCN which has N6 million as a director as well. Papers for the registration of the NEPA Superannuation Fund Limited were filled by a law firm; John Olenyi Esq of Plot 82 Julius Nyerere Crescent, Asokoro Abuja on July 7, 2005 on their behalf.
The Federal Government has for about 18 months running, been involved in negotiations with the unions in the power sector that also include the Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSAEAC) in the run-off to the privatisation of the 17 successor companies of PHCN; negotiations which have been supervised by renowned trade union leader, Hassan Sunmonu have thus recorded some milestones except for some demands precisely from NUEE.
The unions have demanded for the payment of 25 per cent of salary deductions from workers which they claim have over the years been deducted from their pay as contributions to their in-house pension scheme.
But as regards the payment of severance retirement benefits to PHCN employees, the Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji, had at different fora stated that there is no PHCN employee that have contributed 25 per cent of his or her salary to their in-house pension scheme or any amount at all to the scheme up to June 30, 2004, when the PHCN was allowed by law to operate the in-house defined pension scheme which is a scheme different from what is generally obtained in the public service.
Nnaji who recently disclosed that over N300 billion may have been amiss in the fund, had noted that if there were contributions to the pension scheme by any PHCN personnel at all, they were not reflected in the books or bank accounts of the pension scheme which its trustees are officials of the trade unions in the power sector and the PHCN management.
According to him, the officials are the sole signatories to the bank accounts of the fund, adding that the Federal Government has never been involved in the management of the PHCN pension scheme, and as such, if there are cases of fraud or misappropriation of funds, the workers should know those to be held responsible.