5 retired Service heads, 52 Perm Secs to sue #Kogi govt over pension

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Five retired Heads of Service (HOS) and 52 Permanent Secretaries in Kogi have threatened to drag the State Government to court to demand full payment of their harmonized statutory pension allowances.

The 57 aggrieved pensioners under the aegis of Association of Retired Heads of Service and Permanent Secretaries disclosed this in a letter to Governor Idris Wada and made available to newsmen on Thursday in Lokoja.

The letter signed by the association’s chairman, Mr J.O. Mesole and Secretary, Mr John Ausa, the retired technocrats said government had placed them on 50 per cent pension since December, 2011 and were being owed N11.3 million monthly.

They lamented that nine of their members had died from 2012 to date partly due to the anomaly saying that they had reached the limit of their patience and would now take legal action to protect their pension rights as enshrined in the constitution.

The pensioners said that their counterparts, who retired after December, 2011 were receiving their full pension and 57 of them who retired before the 2011 harmonization were placed on 50 per cent part-payment.

“Heads of Service and Permanent Secretaries are in the management cadre. They are also on consolidated pay (not on salary grade level) and earn 100 per cent of their total emoluments as pension for life.

“For this reasons, their pensions are to be automatically harmonized to be at par with the pay of their serving counterparts with effect from the date there is pay rise for them. Their own case of harmonization is different”, the letter said.

According to the association, withholding a pension or part of it violates section 210(2) of the Constitution of the country which states that a pension shall not be withheld or altered to the disadvantage of a pensioner.

“Asking us to wait until the finances of government would have improved before our request could be granted is as good as saying we should wait indefinitely or that we should forget about the request”, they said.

The pensioners however said they were not unaware of the lean financial position of the state and would not ask for payment of arrears from December, 2011 to date but approval for full implementation from July 1, 2015.

“All we are requesting is for Your Excellency to kindly approve with effect from 1st July, 2015,” payment of the fully consolidated and harmonized pension of the five retired HOS and 52 Permanent Secretaries.”

Responding on behalf of the Government, Prof. Olugbemiro Jegede, Secretary to the State Government (SSG) acknowledged receipt of two letters from the association and arrears of 50 per cent of their harmonized pension.

Jegede however said the state was going through “a very difficult, excruciatingly painful financial crunch at the moment” and urged the pensioners to be patient, cooperate and understand, hoping government finances would improve soon.