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Oko poly sets up panel to probe N54.3m fraud

Posted by By Enyim Enyim on 2005/07/26 | Views: 341 |

Oko poly sets up panel to probe N54.3m fraud

AUTHORITIES of the Federal Polytechnic, Oko have set up a panel of enquiry to probe financial fraud of N 54.3m alleged by the institution's branch of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners.

ONITSHAŚ AUTHORITIES of the Federal Polytechnic, Oko have set up a panel of enquiry to probe financial fraud of N 54.3m alleged by the institution's branch of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners.

Rector of the institution and chairman of the Pensions Board, Prof. Uba Nwuba disclosed this while briefing newsmen on the petition of fraud in the Pensions Board by some pensioners who have not been paid their gratuities and pensions since their retirement three years ago.

Following the development, Prof. Nwuba said the Desk officer had been sent on compulsory annual leave to allow the panel carry out its investigation efficiently and effectively.

The chairman of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners, Oko Polytechnic branch, Mr Patrick Ofoegbu in a petition to president Olusegun Obasanjo, Minister of education, EFCC and ICPC made available to the Vanguard accused the authorities of the Polytechnic of embezzlement of pensions fund to the tune of N 54.3m

However, the Rector said the amount being investigated was between 2m and N 3m being part of the gratuity and pension money which the Desk Officer claimed to have repaid to the institution's underwriter, NICON insurance company.

But the NUP boss who spoke with the Vanguard on the issue explained that a total of N 28.3m and N 18m pension money for 20 and 15 living and dead pensioners respectively were misappropriated by the pensions Board since 2002, adding that N 5m for five pensioners who were retired in 2003/2004 which had been paid by NICON insurance was equally embezzled by the Board.

"Since we retired, we have neither received our gratuity nor monthly pension. Some of us who retired in January 2002 have not also been paid. As at today, 16 pensioners have died because they have neither received their gratuity nor pension to take care of themselves medically and other wise"

A pay roll from NICON Insurance Company made available to the Vanguard indicated that the Polytechnic had collected the funds for pensioners for 2004 but had not disbursed the money to the pensioners.

The document also showed that some active staff were pay-rolled for pension while the money did not get to them.

Ofoegbu said they had to carry out investigations and found out that they had been duly paid by the polytechnic underwriter (NICON) but had not been paid on the excuse by the authorities that there was no money.

He appealed to the Federal government to come to their rescue to save the remaining pensioners from starving to death, saying that they had written severally to the authorities of Oko Polytechnic and the Pension Board as well as the Federal Ministry of Education without any response.

Some of the pensioners who spoke with the Vanguard also accused the Pensions Board whose signatory comprised the Rector, Bursar and representative of the staff union of under payment of pension and gratuity, alleging that pensions were equally collected and embezzled by the Board from ghost retirees.

The Rector however denied that pensions meant for the dead and ghost pensioners were not misappropriated as such report had not reached him.

"I have not got such report. If somebody dies, he has next of kin who would come and collect his pension. I have not also got any petition from any relative of any dead pensioner. So, why should somebody tell you that the pension of dead pensioners was embezzled by the institution.

Prof. Nwuba said that the problem of non-payment of pension started in May 2003 when the Federal government decided to change the underwriter from NICON to GOLD LINK, an exercise that failed because GOLDLINK was not given any money to operate because NICON claimed the federal government was owing it alot of money.

He said that following the development, Pension was stopped but the institution on its own sourced money internally to pay pension till July 2004 when it stopped because of the huge financial burden.

According to him, no pension fund had been released to the polytechnic Pension Board nationwide since 2003 when the problem started, adding that he had not received more than # 20m pension fund since assuming office as the institution rector in 2002.

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