James Emejo in Abuja
The Executive Secretary, Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD), Dr. Chioma Ejikeme has expressed worry over the increasing activities of fraudsters who defraud unsuspecting pensioners of their retirement benefits.
She said the pension industry had before now been replete with complaints of extortion by fraudsters and calls demanding for money in order to quicken computation and payment of outstanding liabilities.
Speaking at the opening of the 2020 sensitisation and capacity building workshop for anti-graft and other related agencies on the Defined Benefit Scheme (DBS) in Abuja, she said these fraudsters take advantage of the desperate and unsuspecting pensioners to defraud them of their meagre benefits.
The PTAD boss also said the directorate had been inundated with complaints of scammers impersonating or posing as staff of PTAD usually conveying wrong information and misleading write-ups.
She said the agency had deemed it fit to engage its stakeholders in order to continually re-strategise and come to terms with the realities of fraudulent activities as it pertains to the management of the directorate’s pensioners.
She pointed out that it was against this backdrop that PTAD had launched the maiden edition of the workshop themed: “Zero-Fraud Pension Administration in Defined Benefit Scheme (DBS)”.
Nonetheless, Ejikeme said the PTAD had been liaising with security agencies including the Department of State Security (DSS), Nigerian Police Force (NPF), Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) in order to curtail the menace.
According to her, the synergy with security agencies had yielded some level of success in the apprehension and prosecution of some fraudsters especially at verification centers.
She said: “Though the Directorate has concluded its on-field pensioner verification exercises, so far, a reasonable level of decline in the complaints has been reached, however, there are still pockets of complaints bordering on illicit request for funds to process pension arrears and defrauding of the pensioners.”
The ES added that through several collaborations, PTAD had been able to mitigate the perpetration of fraudulent activities carried out by syndicates and persons who fraudulently take advantage of the pensioners.
She said the directorate at several stakeholder engagements at the various geopolitical zones, had re-iterated its commitment to curtail the perpetration of fraudulent acts.
She further stated that the successes recorded by the directorate in curtailing fraudulent and dubious activities could not have been achieved without partnerships with the security and anti-graft agencies as well as the Public Complaints Commission and SERVICOM who are avenues of informing the directorate of the plights of the pensioners under the DBS.
Notwithstanding the feats, she there is always room for improvement and up skilling, pointing out that the forum provided an opportunity for all present to contribute from their pool of knowledge and expertise in order to achieve a zero-fraud pension administration in the DBS.
Representative of the security agencies, Commissioner of Police, Pension Office, DCP Ibrahim Tarfa said the pension reforms represented the greatest legacy of government.
He said while corruption had destroyed the old pension scheme, the emergence of the Contributory Pension Schemes and the DBS was a game changer for pension administration.
He specifically commended PTAD for sanitising the pension industry in the country.