The Presiding Judge, Portharcourt Judicial division of the National Industrial Court, Hon. Justice Faustina Kola-Olalere FCIArb, has ordered Premium Pensions Ltd, National Pension Commission and 2 others to pay Mr. Odono Roberts, being the Administrator and beneficiary of his deceased wife, late Mrs. Robert Mable the sum of N5,842,853.59. (Five Million, Eight Hundred and Forty-Two Thousand, Eight Hundred and Fifty-Three Naira, Fifty Nine Kobo) as the contributory pension plus its accrued interest at 11% per annum from January 2014 to February 2022 within 30 days.
The Court held that by the provision of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended), Mr. Odono Roberts is entitled to be paid all the remittances made into his late wife’s pension account; and awarded the sum of N500,000 for the cost of action in his favour.
From facts, the claimant- Mr. Odono Roberts had pleaded that by virtue of the employment of his late wife with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the Premium Pensions opened two retirement saving accounts in her favor and she continued the remittances until she died in 2013 and all efforts to get the contributed payment for the second account opened in 2006 proved abortive.
In defense, Premium Pensions deposed that the National Pension Commission policy on double registration is to prevent double compensation or payment of retirement benefits to an individual; the first account opened by the claimant’s late wife was considered the valid account while the second account was considered invalid by the National Pension Commission and upon payment of the fund/contribution contained in the valid RSA account to Mr. Robert that ended the relationship between them.
The 4th defendant- National Pension Commission submitted that Mr. Roberts late wife violated the Pension Reform Act by opening two Retirement Savings Account instead of one and she failed to regularize same when she was alive, that the merger of the two accounts as requested by the claimant was contrary to their regulations, urged the court to dismiss the case.
The 3rd defendant- Central Bank Nigeria maintained that it does not have any records of any funds from any invalidated accounts of Late Mrs. Mabel Ofonime Odono being returned by the Premium Pensions to the National Pension Commission account.
In reply, the claimant counsel submitted that the Defendants cannot declare his late wife’s RSA in which she made all her contributions invalid thereby rendering all her contributions un-claimable, urged the court to grant the reliefs sought.
Delivering the judgment after careful evaluation of the submission of both parties, the presiding Judge, Hon. Justice Faustina Kola-Olalere held that no section of the Pension Reform Act talks about double/multiple registrations, neither is any punishment/penalty specified for having double/multiple registrations of the pension account.
Justice Kola-Olalere held that Premium Pensions owe the duty of ensuring that the deceased maintained or opened one Account as her Retirement Savings in line with the Pension Reforms Act, 2014 that the defendants will not be allowed by this Court to shift the blame of their inaction on the deceased neither will the Court allow the claimant to suffer for the pension fund administrator inaction.
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