Just In: Local Government Retirees in Delta State Demand Justice Over Alleged Arbitrary Deductions from Pensions and Gratuities.
By David Okori – Asaba
Delta State Local Government Retirees are expressing their dissatisfaction with the alleged arbitrary removal of #8 million from pensions and gratuities of local government retirees. They are now demanding the immediate removal of the Auditor General and his deputy from office for misleading the Secretary to the State Government and the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON).
The chairman, Pst Daniel Onosanimoni, and Secretary, Elder Godwin Ekelini, are outraged by the deductions and claim that the issue surrounding the #40 billion ALGON loan has caused even more distress for the retirees in Delta State.
During an emergency meeting held in Ughelli on Thursday, October 19th, 2023, the Contributory Local Government Retirees in Delta State condemned the arbitrary deductions of N8 million from their pensions and gratuities by the Delta State Government and ALGON.
The retirees recounted their struggles over the past four months, highlighting how ALGON, in collaboration with the Secretary to the State Government, engaged a forensic auditor to re-evaluate their accrued rights using unfavorable parameters. This resulted in the removal of N4 million from each retiree’s pension and gratuity.
Despite the existence of a well-prepared document by BA Adigun and Associates, approved by the Delta State Government and Pencom since 2011, the forensic expert introduced parameters that led to a reduction in total emoluments instead of an increase, despite the inflationary trends and economic hardship in the country.
The retirees specifically blame the Auditor General (Local Government) and his Deputy for tampering with their consolidated salary, resulting in a significant withdrawal of N8 million from each retiree. They argue that a consolidated salary, as approved by the Salary and Wages Commission, cannot be unbundled or tampered with.
Citing the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended, the retirees assert that no one has the power to alter or remove retirees’ pensions without a law permitting them to do so. They question the authority of the Auditor General and his deputy to remove such a substantial amount from their pensions and gratuities.
The retirees also highlight the significant personal income taxes they paid based on their consolidated salaries, which generated substantial revenue for the State Government. They question why the Auditor General did not raise any concerns during that time but has now decided to deprive them of their lawful rights and benefits.
Furthermore, the retirees emphasize that the disputed accrued rights are monies that accrued to them before 2011, when they were still in service and entitled to transport, housing, and rent allowances. They continued to enjoy these allowances until their retirement in 2019 and 2020. They argue that if the Auditor General is allowed to remove these allowances, they should be reimbursed for the years they enjoyed them.
In light of these grievances, the Local Government Retirees are demanding the reinstatement of the arbitrarily deducted amounts from their pensions and gratuities. They are also calling for the immediate removal of the Auditor General and his deputy for misleading the Secretary to the State Government and ALGON.
The retirees warn that if their demands are not met, they will resort to massive protests and legal action to seek justice.