Local government pensioners in Cross River State took to the streets yesterday to protest the non-payment of their retirement benefits by the state government since 2014. The outstanding pension being owed by the state government is estimated at over N35bn.
The pensioners who came with their chairs and sat down, blocked the two lanes of the Murtala Mohammed Highway in Calabar metropolis, chanting songs as they request that the State Government should pay their outstanding pensions.
Some of the pensioners also said that they have concluded plans to drag the State Government to the National Industrial Court in Calabar. The decision was reached after a series of protests to Governor’s office yielded no positive result.
Speaking with some local government retirees who claimed to be owed months of pension, the state Commissioner for Local Government Affairs, Mrs Stella Odey, promised that every genuine pensioner will be paid once they undergo screening and are captured in the payroll. She said the periodic screening became imperative following the discovery of a high number of ghost pensioners in the payroll.
She said no verified pensioner is owed a dime by the state government. She urged them to cooperate with government by submitting themselves for screening in order to be captured for payment.
She disclosed that the staff now manning the pension board was directly drawn from the local governments as demanded by the pensioners so that they can take adequate care of their files.
The commissioner stated that Governor Ben Ayade holds pensioners dearly to his heart and does not want them to suffer hence the prompt payment of those that have been verified.
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