THE Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA) yesterday said the payment of the approved N22. 6 billion entitlements to ex-workers of the defunct Nigeria Airways Ltd. was halted due to multiple verification by some of the beneficiaries.
Its Deputy Director, Mr. John Waitono stated this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
The verification exercise for the ex-workers took place between October 15 and 28 across three centres in Lagos, Kano and Enugu.
Waitono said PICA had planned to start the payment of already verified pensioners in batches of 1,000, but had to halt the disbursement after it was discovered that some of the beneficiaries were verified in more than one location.
He said: “What happened was that the first batch was to commence payment but when we went through the system, we discovered that some persons have done the same exercise in Enugu and Lagos or Kano and Lagos.
“We now started sorting them out and that is what delayed the first batch. So, now we have collated all the information in one place from the three centres. The system is now sieving out those with multiple verification.
“One of such persons, whom I am aware of, said he did not trust the verification he did in Kano and that was why he did another one in Lagos.”
According to him, PICA is being careful not to make the mistake of paying some of the beneficiaries more than once.
“As at today (yesterday), the consultant is back in Abuja and we are ensuring that the verified persons are paid as soon as possible. We want to send the names to the Office of the Account General in batches of 1,000.
“Over 5,000 persons were verified and once we eliminate the multiple verification, everybody will be paid before the end of the week,” he said.
Waitono, who was the coordinator of the verification exercise at the Lagos centre, disclosed that it was concluded on Sunday, adding that the equipment had been sent back to Abuja.
“The few cases we left behind were those still processing their letters of administration in court.
“Also, there are some families involved in litigation over the beneficiaries and we have allowed them to go and sort themselves out legally before coming for the exercise,” he said.
The former national carrier was liquidated in 2004 by the President Olusegun Obasanjo’s government without paying the workers their severance packages as stipulated in extant labour laws.
The workers were paid a fraction of their entitlements by the late President Umaru Yar’Adua’s regime in 2008 before President Muhammadu Buhari recently approved the part payment of N22. 6billion for them.
The government has also promised to pay the other half of the money to them as soon as funds are available.