Edo Pension Fraud: How EDSG Covered Up Fraud In Edo Pensions Fund Administration

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Edo Pension Fraud: How EDSG covered Up Fraud In Edo Pensions Fund Administration.

…..One year after, same of same

Erstwhile Labour leader and Governor Mr Adams Eric Aliyu Oshiomhole whose tenure as governor of Edo State came to an end a year ago handed over an unsolved corruption scandal to his successor, who was a principal actor in his government.

At the time the scandal perpetrated by his aides, Adams Oshiomhole, rather than prosecuting those involved, preferred to play the ostrich by burying his head in the sand.

The gravity of the scandal is better appreciated when considered against the backdrop of the fact that the state Head of Service and a permanent secretary lost their jobs.The incident also led to the scrapping of a statutory government agency, namely the state pensions board.

The state pension board is essentially a public agency funded by the tax payer, which has the following functions:

i      Formulating and evaluating policies relating to Pensions Service.

ii     Process payments of pensions and gratuities under the old scheme.

iii     Maintaining comprehensive and up-to-date personnel records for pensioners of the Civil Service.

iv    Co-ordinate Civil Service Pensions Scheme/ Funds

v     Offer pension consultancy service to other government agencies.

vi     Follow-up on reimbursement claims from Federal Government in conjunction with the Office of the Head of Service.

vii    Organise Verification for pensioners.

viii   Maintain relationship with Local government pensions and teachers Pensions organizations.

ix   Organising pre-retirement workshop for Retiring Civil Servants.

x    Any other duty as may be assigned by the Governor.

The scam in pension administration in the state, was so orchestrated that pensioners in their thousands were unable to get their gratuities, for months if not years while many others had multiple vouchers in their names. The inability of the present government to meet the pension financial obligation is still ongoing… And EDSG is talking about sponsored protests!

In December 2015 the then governor publicly ordered the scrapping of the State Pensions Board and announced plans to set up a Bureau to oversee the payment of pensions in the state, as a way to stem what he called, “the incidences of fraud in pension payment”.

Oshiomhole also sacked the State Head of Service, Mr Jerry Obazele and  placed the Permanent Secretary, Information and Communications Technology Agency, Mr Dan Aigbavboa on retirement.

He then directed members of the State Pensions Board to report to the State Civil Service Commission for de-briefing amidst a proper investigation and disciplinary action in accordance with the Civil Service Rules.

On how the fraud was uncovered, the ex-governor Adam Oshiomhole admitted that , “I encouraged the Head of Service to give me a clear view concerning what our liabilities are in regards to accumulated pension gratuities. I was given some numbers and my task is to find the resources to provide for these numbers”.

He continued, “However, in the course of trying to establish the details of what makes up these numbers, the names of the pensioners, their date of appointment, date of retirement, their salary at the point of retirement, the number of years of service which taken together are the basis for computation of gratuity, I discovered a huge gap between what the Head of Service had told me we owe and what they now generate for us to pay”.

“Following some interrogations, the Pensions Board along with some officers in the Information and Communication Technology Agency had generated three versions of what our pension liabilities are. The result is that I had difficulty as to which of these versions to believe”.

He said, “My intention therefore to ensure that at least, a substantial number of people who were waiting for their gratuities got paid before my 7th year anniversary was dashed because the data which we need to effect payment had been compromised”.

As expected of a “wise administrator”, the government  which Oshiomhole led sought the intervention  of external auditors to look into the books and establish the gravity of the fraud while looking at the pension documents papers and prepare a fresh voucher to enable it address this issue of accumulated gratuity benefits.

That the intervention of the external auditors was quite revealing accounted for Mr Oshiomhole’s commendation when he said, “It shows that the Pension Board has been riddled with fraud. Cases have now been established in which one person has two vouchers, same date of birth, same first name, same surname, everything the same and two original vouchers for one pensioner”…And EDSG is talking about sponsored protests!

He added, “We have also discovered cases of people who ought to have been paid their gratuities in full in one slot, many have been paid on installment basis in a manner that lend itself to fraud and manipulations. The implication of all of these is that we have had to go afresh to construct a more reliable data to enable us deal with this corruption”…And EDSG is talking about sponsored protests!

“Having seen the amount of fraud involved in the pension board, we have decided to abolish the pension board and create a Bureau to be manned by technical people who are competent and also people of character and re-organize the ICT in a way that will ensure that we have data that cannot be violated or compromised…And EDSG is talking about sponsored protests!

“And all those involved in this chain, in the pension board, not only will they be suspended, the police will continue investigation in the light of the fraud that have been established and based on the Civil Service rules, they will be dealt with according to the rules. For those who are political appointees, over the next 24 hours, government will make a decision as to what to do with them”…And EDSG is talking about sponsored protests!

Ironically, from all indications two years after, and one year into a new government, the Police have not been allowed to investigate the criminal aspects of the pension fraud under Oshiomhole. His political appointees he talked about have vanished. Millions of Naira worth of public funds meant to pay pensions, that were paid into private coffers as a result of the fraud, were left with those who illegally acquired them…And EDSG is talking about sponsored protests!

Shame that Edo State government harass the pensioners, call them unprintable names and speculate that their protests are sponsored by the opposition.

Two years after, EDSG still doesn’t have discernible data on ;

1. How much they owe on gratuities

2. How many pensioners in the state

3. What the pension liability is

4. How many months in arrears they owe

Like Edo PDP posited a few weeks ago, the pension fund administration in Edo state is now a bottomless pit enmeshed in a cesspool of corruption.

The pensioners have a right to protest. The government should as a matter of urgency, show empathy, show signs of seriousness in trying to get out of this impasse and take responsibility, otherwise, they will create more disgruntled staff who will attempt to help them self to government funds as they would have lost confidence in post service remuneration. (PENSION).

Signed: Chris Osa Nehikhare

SPS PDP EDO STATE

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