Pensioners in Imo State on Tuesday took to the streets of Owerri, the state capital, protesting the state government’s non-payment of their pensions and gratuities since February. Barring placards with various inscriptions depicting their plights, the retirees accused the governor Hope Uzodinma led administration of insensitivity.
The pensioners who wanted to invade the state government house were, however, resisted by security men who formed a barricade. Unable to access the government house, the pensioners, blocked the state government house roundabout, preventing movements in and out of the government house.
Briefing journalists, Mr Iyke Ohaneje, who introduced himself as Chairman, Imo State Pensioners Intervention Committee, said,
”We are not here to protest. We have come to beg for alms from the people of Imo State hence the government has refused to pay us our pensions since February. We are not begging the government for any money. We are asking the government to pay us our pension which is money we earned.
“As at the last count, 42 members of this association have died of hunger, excluding the ones in the rural areas. Government agents have frustrated every move we had made to get our pensions paid to us.
“Just the other day, a Civil Defence officer at the accountant general’s office shot at us while we went to demand our pensions. He shot at us because he has a small gun whereas this is an officer who is supposed to be civil.
“We have written to everybody, including journalists, lawyers, Bishops, asking them to prevail on the state government to pay us our pensions and gratuities.
Responding to the issue, the Senior Special Assistant to the governor on media, Modestus Nwamkpa, just said, the pensioners would soon be paid. Nwamkpa said, “Government is aware of the situation but taking to the streets won’t solve the situation. The government is looking into their books. They will soon be paid.”