By Dele Ogbodo in Abuja
The Chairman, Presidential Task Force on Pension Reform (PTTPR), Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina, has said that his committee recovered the sum of N251 billion in the last two years.
Maina said the amount was part of the pensioners fund looters by directors and civil servants managing the fund.
The money, he said, had been credited into a special account managed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), through the Federal Ministry of Finance.
Speaking with National Assembly correspondents at the weekend, Maina said his committee was able to remove 73,000 names of ghost pensioners from the pensioners’ list across the country.
He said: “I can tell you authoritatively that my committee and I were able to recover N221 billion into government coffers, we are also trying to mop up over N30 billion again and we have been able to arrest several looters across the country.
“We have also been able to remove the names of over 73,000 ghost pensioners and fake account numbers; all these we have the records. We have paid the pension arrears and gratuity of pensioners all over the country, especially those that have never been paid.
“In fact I have all these names. They will soon be published so that Nigerians will see.”
He stated that President Goodluck Jonathan was passionate about the pension reform, and “we must make sure that it works and that is why we have been able to succeed and right now EFCC has been able to confiscate over 2011 properties through the task team.
“All of us are going to retire one day and when that is done, we should be able to get our pensions, you know when you attempt to fight corruption, and it fights you back. As far as I’m concerned, I have the greatest respect for the Senate President, he is like a father to me and I tell you I also respect this committee,” he said. According to him, over 52,000 pensioners that were denied pension for over 32 years have been paid.
“We told the Nigerian Union of Pensioners to give us the names of any pensioner that has not been captured. We started with them on a very good note until EFCC arrested their members for being used as conduit pipe to siphon over 2.7billion,” Maina said.
Maina stressed that he has a lot of respect for members of the upper chamber, the entire Senate leadership and the committee overseeing the pension team.
He said allegations of the missing N195 billion were the handiwork of mischief makers, adding: “By the grace of God I will be honouring the invitation extended to me by Senator Aloysius Etok-led Committee on Establishment and Public Service and by the end of the exercise you will discover no single kobo was misappropriated or missing because we collect or remit money in this committee.”
He added that all the team was trying to do is to ensure that pensioners get their money.
“We don’t have operational cost. Head of Service has refused to give us money to operate. When we look for paper, we will write office of Head of Service, yet, they said we are controlling money,” he said.