By Bode Olushegun
Borno State Government has disclosed that about N400 million that could have be lost to fraud was saved in the state’s pension bill as a result of ongoing verification exercise. The government said the saving is expected to rise as several fraudulent practices have been discovered in the pension administration system.
Addressing a press conference on Saturday in Maiduguri, the Borno State Head of Service, Barrister Simon Malgwi said the recent Public Hearing to find solutions into the lingering problems associated with pensions in the state, discovered “far more serious cases of fraud and other unsavoury activities on the parts of the pensioners; which have profoundly affected the verification process and considerably hindered the processing of their forms to be captured in the exercise.”
He said: “Most of these fraudulent cases border on deliberate overstay in the service, well beyond the mandatory years of service or retirement age; which was being perpetrated by altering dates of birth or dates of first appointment.
“There were also cases of those who were collecting both salary and pension at the same time, which is a gross misconduct and a formidable betrayal.
“In the course of the Hearing, cases of impersonation, improper replacement and over-payment of pension have also been discovered.”
He decried that: “All these acts of malfeasance and administrative indiscretions are serious causes of concern to the government as they pose considerable challenge to the smooth and proper operation of the verification and biometric data capture exercise of all our pensioners.”
He added that: “There are also cases where next of kins of deceased persons do not report the death of pensioners to government and they will continue to collect the pension until the ATM expires and they become stranded.”
He asked next of kins to report the death of pensioners immediately it occurred, warning that “if they fail to report and it is discovered, government will immediately withdraw the pension.”
Malgwi said: “However, government would not relent in its ardent determination to sanitize the system and establish a proper and enduring method of taking care of our pensioners.”
The HOS while disclosing that a total of 552 pensioners who retired from June 2016 to April 2020 have been automatically enrolled into the pension scheme and paid their pensions for the month of May with arrears to be paid in due course, said retired staff who automatically be transferred from salary to pension with losing any month.
Malgwi who said May salary and pension has been paid to enable Muslim brothers and sisters celebrate the Sallah with less financial stress, demanded that civil servants should reciprocate government’s good gestures by re-dedicating themselves to their duties.