Compel FG to pay us N121billion benefits, pensioners tell court
For allegedly deducting N121 billion from their wages, 29 pensioners have asked the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NIC), Lagos to order the federal government and seven others to pay them their benefits.
The claimants, pensioners who retired at various times between 1981 and 2002 from the Federal Civil Service in one capacity or the other gave their respective power of attorney to first claimant, Mr. Gabriel O. Obahiagbon.
They filed the suit against the President of Federal Republic of Nigeria, Minister of Finance, Minister of Establishments and Management Service, the Head of Service of the Federation, the Accountant General of the Federation, the Director-General, National Pension Commission, Pension Transitional Arrangement Department Federal Civil service and Attorney-General and Minister for Justice of the Federation as first to eight defendants respectively.
However, Obahiagbon in his testimony before Justice Kanyip, told court that when he and others were in service, there were several undeclared amounts held back from their negotiated wages by the defendants and lodged in Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) for pension payment in future.
Led- in- evidence by the claimants counsel, Mr Adekunle Oyesanya (SAN), Obahigbon said:” Due to the arrangement whereby part of our wages were held back, the pension scheme was dubbed ‘non-contributory’ such that the salary structure published from time to time reflected only the Take Home Pay (THP) of the affected civil servant without revealing their contribution and Federal Governments Contribution.
“This practice continued until the promulgation of the Pension Reform Act in 2004 when a new scheme was introduced for those still in service while my group of pensioners and I who retired well before 2004 and who were in the non contributory pension scheme continue to labour under the old pension regime.”
He therefore tendered claimant written statement on oath deposed to by Obahiagbon dated March 11,2016 and was admitted as exhibit.Also, in their statement of claim, they want, “an order that the aborted investment income on the failed investment on the capital base of each of the claimants, as particularised be paid to them with the accruing interest at the rate of 20 percent per annum from date of filling till judgment and thereafter at 10 percent per annum pending final liquidation.
They also want general, exemplary and aggravated damages in the sum of N1billion for the defendants willful failure, neglect and or refusal to pay the claimants their respective pensions at and when due and for failure to perform their functions and duties as regards pension matters under various law regulating pensions in Nigeria thus causing untold hardship and suffering to him and others.
However, he was cross examined by the counsel to the 1 and 8 defendants, Mr Eloka J. Okoye, 7th defendant counsel, Mr Nenfort Amos and 6th defendant counsel, Mr Anene A. Maduechesi. Hearing continues June 30.