Retired soldiers protest unpaid pensions in Abuja

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Ifeanyi Onuba, Abuja

Military pensioners, on Wednesday, held a peaceful protest at the headquarters of the Ministry of Finance to demand the payment of their pension arrears.

The workers, numbering about 100, accused the ministry of refusing to release funds for the payment of the backlogs of their pensions.

They chanted solidarity songs, while displaying placards with various inscriptions such as ‘Pay us our pension’, and ‘Pension review should be based on 53.7 per cent effective from 2015’.

They called on President Muhammadu Buhari to authorise the payment of the 20.37 per cent balance of military pension increment since 2010, payment of balance of gratuities of contributory pensions with the National Pension Commission and the harmonisation of military pensions transparently and equitably.

Other demands are that government should audit and re-organise the Military Pension Board to make it transparent and friendly to veterans, payment of military pensions to verified civil war veterans, and engagement of military veterans in the protection of critical infrastructure.

They also demanded the payment of next-of-kin of fallen heroes equitable insurance benefits, and payment of balance of pension arrears of deceased veterans to Next-of Kin among others.

Addressing journalists on the sidelines of the protest, the chairman of the group, Mr. Anthony Agba, said the group was demanding the payment of 20.37 per cent of their pension that was deducted illegally by previous governments.

He said, “We are here to demand the payment of our 20.37 per cent illegally deducted by the previous governments. We have come here to protest for the non-payment.

“As you can see, one of our members collapsed due to exhaustion and hunger caused by negligence of government. The minister of finance illegally deducted that money from the 53.37 per cent approved by the Federal Government.

“They said they deducted it for tax and housing but when we were in the military, we didn’t pay tax.

“They have done it before and we kept quiet but we won’t accept it anymore. We are retired soldiers and we want government to pay us the balance of 20.37 per cent and over pension is supposed to be reviewed since 2015, up till today they have not reviewed it.”

Another member of the group, Mr. Abiodun Durowaiye-Herberts, lamented that military pensioners had not been treated well by the government.

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