Some widows of slain military officers killed in the decade old war against Boko Haram insurgent are lamenting the failure of the Ministry of Defence to pay them their husband life insurance claims years after their demise.
The widows, in a separate interviews with Saturday PUNCH who spoke on anonymity decried that they fulfilled the requirements to qualify for the payments yet nothing was done. The dead soldiers were officers in the Nigerian Army with ranks ranging from lieutenant to captain.
One of the women in an interview on Friday who lost her husband to an ambush by terrorists who attacked 157 Battalion in Metele, Borno State, in 2018, lamented that this pitiful incidence had left her and the children in a thorny situation.
She said, “Some other widows and I wrote the defence ministry which is in charge of the insurance but there was no response. We have resorted to begging them. The sudden death of our husbands was a hard hit on us. We need help. The Federal Government should help us.’’
Another widow who was moved to tears as she narrated her ordeal to Saturday PUNCH said life had been extremely tough for her and her children since the death of her husband.
She noted that it was excruciating when the news got to her that her husband died at the battlefield. The woman said, “But that sadness has been compounded by the silence of the defence ministry on my late husband’s life insurance claim. It’s quite traumatic. It has been difficult to survive with my children. My husband was killed by insurgents on August 7, 2014 in Borno State. I went to the Army Headquarters many times to know when the insurance would be paid and they kept saying they were working towards it. It’s frustrating.’’
It was reportedly gathered from Saturday PUNCH that the insurance under the “Group Life Assurance” is supervised by the Ministry of Defence mandates the widows to submit the required documents for onward processing of their late spouses’ life insurance claims. Saturday PUNCH learnt that the claims vary based on the ranks of the slain soldiers.
Section 4(5) of the Pension Reform Act 2014, provides that “every employer shall maintain a Group Life Insurance Policy in favour of each employee for a minimum of three times the annual total emolument of the employee and premium shall be paid not later than the date of commencement of the cover.”
Saturday PUNCH exclusively gathered that to commence processing for claims accruable to their husbands, each widow is to present a condolence letter, affidavit and declaration as next-of-kin, (from a magistrates’ court), death certificate (from a hospital), death notification including 12 passport photographs of the next-of-kin and the slain soldier among other requirements.
In the long-fight against insurgency, both the Nigerian Army and terrorists had recorded casualties. In one of the recent attacks, over 30 soldiers were killed in April when the Islamic State-aligned fighters ambushed a military convoy escorting weapons and overran a base in Mainok, Borno State. Also in the same month, troops killed at least 40 insurgents in the town of Dikwa, Borno State.
A widow, who said she was told that her husband died in December 2014 in Gombe State, added that all she was told when she inquired about the life insurance claim from the army was that they were resolving some issues associated with it.
She said, “It has not been easy taking care of my child. I have tried everything possible but there had been no positive response. There was a time I was told that the issues had not been resolved. They should help us and not let us suffer because our husbands died fighting for Nigeria.’’’
The pain of losing her husband in Gombe in 2014 is still fresh in the heart of another widow who noted that he was pregnant when the news of her husband’s death was broken to her.
The woman added, “The boy is now six years old. It has been me and my God. He (my husband) was killed in an ambush. We have tried to get the life insurance claim but it has been difficult. My children and I survive on the little I get selling confectioneries.”
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