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Pensioners Protest Non-payment of Gratuities in Rivers

Pensioners Protest Non-payment of Gratuities in Rivers

Blessing Ibunge

Hundreds of pensioners in Rivers State on Wednesday, protested the non-payment of their gratuities and pension arrears for about nine years.

The pensioners revealed that since 2012 up till now, some of them have not received their gratuities and also pension arrears from the state government.

The placard-carrying retirees lamented that since 2012, over 300 pensioners have lost their lives due to alleged state government’s non-compliance with its side of the tripartite agreement reached.

They stated that every effort to make the government pay their pension fell on deaf ears even as complaints lodged at different quarters were futile, leading to the peaceful protest.

The former civil servants in their black attire during the protest in Port Harcourt, bemoaned the untold hardship they have faced since 2012 till date.

Mr. U. D. Moses, one of the protesting pensioners, vowed that they would continue with the protest until the state government accede to their demands.

He said: “I retired in 2015 and from that time till now, I have not been paid my gratuity and I am owed three years pension arrears and some of us are owed seven years.

“We have suffered for the state. Is it a crime to give 35 years of our lives to this state?

“We have made efforts through different means to reach out to the governor but to no avail. We even met with some elder statesmen to help us appeal to him but the governor paid deaf ears.

“We will continue this protest until he pays us. He set up a tripartite committee, and until now we have not heard anything from him. We have lost over 300 pensioners from 2012 till date.”

Addressing the protesters along Bank Road, Port Harcourt, the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Friday Eboka, appealed to them to be peaceful while he communicates with to the governor.

Eboka said: “We have articulated all your grievances and I am aware that some of you retired since 2012 until now you have not gotten your gratuities.

“I have listened to you and I want to assure you that I will pick it up from this place because very soon I will retire and if I do not take care of you, you will not take care of me.

“I will carry your grievance, all you have articulated and pass it on to the governor to look into your plight.”

However, the spokesperson for the pensioners, Lucky Ati, said they have given the government two weeks to look into their grievances and if nothing is done, they would not have any other choice than to continue with the protest.

“The CP has come to address us. He has told us that he will take this matter to His Excellency. This does not mean that we are going out today, we will all return here again. If they do not comply, we will still come out.

“We are only suspending this protest today and if for any reason nothing is done. We have died enough, we don’t want to die again. We are giving them two weeks. In the next two weeks we will gather here if nothing is done,” Ati warned.

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