by crossriverwatch admin
Electronic payment of pensioners introduced by the Cross River State Pensions Board has led to the recovery of 26 million Naira between 2012 and 2013 into the state coffers.
The sum of 17 million Naira was recovered in 2012 while 9 million Naira was recovered in payments made in the first and second quarters of 2013.
The State Governor, Senator Liyel Imoke two weeks ago during an Executive Council meeting stated that pensions payment in the state reeks of monumental fraud prompting investigation by CrossRiverWatch in the state pensions office which led to revelations that manual crediting of pensioners accounts by banks in the past was manipulated by some people to give room for the crediting of more than one account to some pensioners.
When CrossRiverWatch visited the Pensions Board office in Calabar on Tuesday, Mr. John Adie, Director of the State Pensions Board revealed that in 2012, the office came up with the novel idea of paying pensioners in the state through the e- payment system; a process whereby the accounts of the pensioners were credited without cheques being lodged into the accounts of the pensioners in banks across the state.
“In the past, our staff would have to travel to all parts of the state to deposit checks in banks for subsequent crediting of each pensioners account but in 2012 we came up with the idea of paying the pensioners electronically through their banks here in Calabar”.
Mr. Adie said it was in the process of the e-payment that it was discovered that some pensioners had more than one account into which cheques were paid, this discovery led to the recovery of huge sums of money.
“The e-payment made it impossible for one pensioner to be credited twice so some payments bounced back but for the avoidance of doubt, we kept releasing monies to those accounts for three months and when nobody came forward to make any claims, we knew that those accounts were phony so we had to stop releasing money to them and went ahead to recoup the monies in the banks which gave us the figure we had as recovered funds”.
He stated that some pensioners perfected the act whereby their children were also signatories to their account such that when the “Father passes on, the son automatically begins to sign and collect the pension from the bank but we have checkmated all those illegalities that is why some people are fighting us to bring in their own persons to continue their past deals”.
He revealed that the Board has carried out reforms by down loading the files of all pensioners into a data base in the board’s website to enable pensioners have access to their files from anywhere they chose without having to travel to Calabar.
“This is the first state pensions board in the whole country to activate this method of electronic filing system to give every pensioner whose file is with us free and easy access to his or her file.”
Mr. Adie stated that the board receives a monthly contribution of 180 million Naira monthly which translates to 10 million Naira monthly from each of the 18 local government areas.
“But after the payment of pension, not much is left for the payment of gratuity so we have to devise a means of sharing the money available amongst the several people who are due for gratuity”.
The Pension Office, the Director stated does not originate any file for payment but the local government councils who know who their retired teachers or staff are.
“We also insisted that all the files must go through the Local Government Service Commission for their authentication before any action is taken by the Pensions Board and after that the Auditor General has to confirm the figures computed for each pensioner”.
On accusations that the office has not been audited for some years, he said the last audit was done by persons sent by the Auditor General and records are available to prove that.
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