Military Pensioners, Families Protest Non-payment of Arrears

•Say defence minister heartless

Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja

Military pensioners yesterday staged a protest march at the headquarters of Ministry of Defence, Abuja over non-payment of their Security Debarment Allowance (SDA) among other demands.

The military pensioners blocked the access road to the Ministry (Ship House) located in Area 10, Garki.

The pensioners, who staged the protest under the aegis of the Retired Members of Nigerian Armed Forces and the Coalition of Concerned Veterans, accused the Minister of Defence, Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi (Retd) of insensitivity to their plights.

Addressing newsmen during the protest, Spokesman of the pensioners, Abiodun Durowaiye-Herberts, said veterans were determined to remain at the ministry’s entrance until their demands were met, insisting that they had already made arrangement to sleep overnight.

“We are here alongside our wives and children, and the widows of late military personnel and veterans who died in service, some of whom died fighting Boko Haram terrorists. We will be sleeping over at this place until the Minister of Defence, Magashi accedes to our demands,” he said.

Speaking in the same vein, the National Secretary of RMNAF, Roy Okhidievbie, explained that the demonstration was to demand the payment of their security debarment allowance owed by the federal government.

He wondered why the minister had refused to disburse the allowances despite approval by President Muhammadu Buhari.

“We have had meetings with the Defence Minister, Magashi, but he appears to be headstrong, heartless, and unperturbed concerning the grievances of retired military officers, as he never paid nor showed any interest or concern to pay these allowances, especially the security debarment allowance.

“Interestingly, President Buhari-led administration has approved the payment of this allowance, but Magashi have refused to make disbursements,” he said.

Also speaking, Anna Nanven, whose husband, a Corporal, was killed by Boko Haram terrorists during an attack on a military barracks in Borno State in 2015, said she was yet to receive any allowance or entitlement since her husband’s demise.

“My husband was a young man, a corporal that was killed by Boko Haram terrorists during an attack on the barracks where he worked.

“I now live with his parents, and I bore five kids, three females and two males for him before his demise.

“The children are aged, 22, 20, 18, 15, and seven and the two eldest, both girls, that are done with high school can’t afford going to the university because I can’t afford their school fee”, she lamented.

“I am pleading that the president, the minister of defence, and Nigerian citizens come to our aid. I and my five children are suffering and living in poverty because I can’t afford starting a business, and I have no job, ” she said.

The retired military personnel, had, January picketed the ministries of finance and defence, as well as National Assembly to press home their demands.

Spokesman of the Minister, Mohammed Abdulkadir, directed inquiries to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Ibrahim Kana.

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