Withdraw suits from court, Benue appeals to pensioners over unpaid gratuities

Benue State Government on Monday appealed to pensioners in the state to withdraw all pending cases concerning owed gratuities and pension allowances from the court.

The Commissioner for Justice and Public Order, Fidelis Mnyim, further appealed to those intending to drag the state government to court to refrain from it, stating that those court cases always resort to garnishee orders.

Mnyim, who spoke at a stakeholders meeting held with pensioners in Makurdi, explained the challenges that confronted the new administration since May 9.

He said that arrears of pension allowances and gratuities of 42 and 96 months from the state and Local Government Areas respectively amounted to N163.7 billion which were inherited from the immediate past government.

The commissioner, however, said that the present administration has been faithful to his campaign promises to pensioners by paying their allowances every month adding that those who had retired since the assumption of Rev Fr Hyacinth Alia had been paid their gratuities.

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He said, “This meeting is at the instance of the governor, Rev Fr Hyacinth Alia, to see how the government can alleviate the plight of pensioners in the state.

“Since the governor assumed office, our senior citizens have been receiving their allowances every month, those who retired since the coming of this government have all been paid their gratuities.

He added, “All the calls to withdraw cases from the court do not amount to a threat but an appeal to all of us to allow the governor to concentrate on regular payment of pension allowances and gratuities.

“These court cases have resorted to garnishee orders. At the time the governor assumed office, the state pensioners were owed 42 months and the local government 96 months which amounted to N163.7 billion.”

In his contribution, the state chairman of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, Michael Vembe, appreciated the governor for keeping to his campaign promises by paying pension allowances promptly.

Vembe called on the governor to implement the consequential adjustment harmonisation, give palliatives in either form of monetary or food items to pensioners and give free treatment to pensioners at the primary health centres across the state.

He lamented that most of the pensioners still earn N2,000 monthly.

Also speaking on behalf of retired permanent secretaries, Hyacinth Ikyagba, blamed the immediate past administration for not prioritising the welfare of pensioners. This, he said was responsible for some of the cases in court.

Ikyagba said, “It is unfortunate that the immediate past administration did not prioritize the welfare of pensioners, imagine pensioners being paid twice in a year and if the past government had been like the present administration, no one would have gone to court.”

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