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EFCC rallies stakeholders against pension fraud

Owolola Adebola

The Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) Abdulrasheed Bawa, on Tuesday, called for concerted action by all stakeholders in ensuring an efficient, effective and fraud-free pension system in Nigeria.

The EFCC chairman stated this in his opening address at the commencement of a two-day National Summit tagged, Eradication of Pension Fraud in Nigeria, at the Nigerian Air Force Conference Centre, Kado, Abuja.

According to him, the EFCC as the coordinating agency for the enforcement of all economic and financial crimes laws is conversant with the rot in the pension sector.

  “We have investigated and documented hundreds of billions of Naira lost to fraud in the pension industry. However, beyond the money, is also the unquantifiable loss of dignity in the retiree who has to grovel and beg (and even die in some instances) in order to access his contributions.

”It is the shame of a nation that those who have contributed their most productive years to us in various capacities have to go through hell to live in retirement. We worry about the quality of regulation, the fidelity of pension managers and the inefficiency in the management of pension assets which have grave consequences for the national economy, not to talk of the perception of Nigeria as a country where anything criminal is possible”, he said.

 All of these, he said, provide the impetus for a national conversation and concerted action from everyone involved in pension management and regulation.

According to him, the two-day Summit offers the stakeholders the opportunity “to introspect and take stock of the measures put in place over the years to improve and sanitize pension administration in Nigeria, as well as seek explanations as to why the pension system seems not to be meeting the needs or living up to the yearnings of pensioners despite the best intentions of industry stakeholders

”….It is our belief that in pooling our resources and expertise together, we can break the cycle of fraud, inefficiency and mutual distrust in the Nigerian pensions system”.

The EFCC boss said the overarching objective of the Summit, is “to have a pensions system that is transparent, accountable and responsive to the needs of its most important, most venerable and most vulnerable stakeholder – the pensioner”.

  He, therefore, charged the participants, “to reach deep into treasure troves of knowledge and come up with pragmatic programmes and policy recommendations that will ultimately engender significant improvement in service delivery and eliminate the gaps currently being exploited by the negative actors in the pension system.

”We owe that to the hapless pensioner out there, who we may ourselves become tomorrow”.

Bawa assured that the Commission, “will continue to vigorously enforce all the laws against fraud in Nigeria”

” I assure you that we are both willing and able to do all that is necessary today to ensure that tomorrow when we all cross to the other side of the road in retirement, we will truly live the life of the models in the PFA adverts and commercials!”

He further commended President Muhammadu Buhari administration for its support to the fight against corruption.

In his words, “one thing that is incontestable as far as Mr. President is concerned, is that when it comes to the fight against corruption, there is no deficit of political will to take hard and difficult decisions”.

The special guest of honour and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha who described pension fraud as heinous, insensitive and condemnable, commended the synergy among the stakeholders which he said will permit analysis of the causes of pension fraud and the measures to check them.

He said the government was conscious of its responsibility in the pension sector and resolve to deal with criminal acts of pension fraud in all ramifications.

He disclosed that the Muhammadu Buhari administration has demonstrated a rare commitment to ameliorating the plight of pensioners through various administrative and policy interventions.

He listed some of the initiatives of the administration targeted at making life more meaningful for pensioners to include, the release of N55billion to settle outstanding pension arrears, placement of 3,542 pensioners of the Delta Steel Company on the payroll, placement of over 2000 staff of the defunct Nigerian Telecommunication Limited,( NITEL,)on the payroll, approval of funds to pay the entitlement of dismissed Biafran Police Officers and the settlement of claims of disengaged staff of defunct Nigeria Airways.

He commended the EFCC Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa for the vigour and vibrancy he has brought to the leadership of the agency.

Goodwill messages were presented by prominent stakeholders including, Sulaiman Abbah,  chairman, Police Pension; Professor Sadiq Radda, Executive Secretary, PACAC, who stood in for the Chairman, Professor Itse Sagay; Ayuba Wabba, President, Nigeria Labour Congress, and Clement Akintola, Executive Commissioner, Inspectorate, PPENCOM, who stood in for the Director-General, National Pension Commission, (PENCOM), Aisha Dahir-Umar.

Presenting a paper entitled, “Case Study: Analysis of Fraud in Pension Administration in Nigeria, The EFCC Experience”, Abdulkarim Chukkol, Director of Operations, EFCC, highlighted the gaps in the existing pension arrangements frequently exploited by criminal elements in both the public and private sectors.

He noted that the country has lost several billions of naira in the process. He however identified improved staff training, proper internal control, an improved reporting system and severe penalty as measures that could help check the incidence of pension fraud.

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Headlines

Sambo commends Bello- Koko over NPA’s revenue increase 

 

— reiterates commitment to Lekki deep seaport project
The Eyewitness reporter
The Minister of Transportation,  Engr Muazu Sambo, has lauded the efforts of Mohammed Bello-Koko, the Managing Director of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), which he said have made the agency as one of the highest revenue-generating organs of government in the maritime industry.
Making the commendation recently during his visit to the agency, Sambo said he was impressed by the positioning of the port industry and the turn- around strides of the NPA MD in the agency which he said has caught the attention of the federal government.

The Minister, who was accompanied by the Hon. Minister of State for Transportation, Ademola Adegoroye, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Transportation Dr. Magdalene Ajani, some Directors and other top officials of the Ministry, stated that the Muhammadu Buhari -led administration was quite pleased with the reforms being implemented by the NPA Management in moving the nation forward, especially in view of the positive developments the sub-sector brought to the nation’s economy in line with international best practices.

“The Muhammadu Buhari- led administration was quite elated with Bello -Koko and his management team for their efforts at resuscitating and boosting the  economy,  especially the Gross Domestic Product ( GDP) which has cushioned the  effects of the  resources of the nation that have nosedived as a result of  the fall in the prices of crude oil”

Sambo also solicited further cooperation from other relevant stakeholders, while assuring them and the maritime community of the readiness of the government to provide the enabling environment and support to make the industry thrive and attract foreign investments.

” MD,  I must state that Council is happy with you and your team. I  commend you and your management team for your efforts in moving the nation forward, especially in the area of an increase in revenue generation to government coffers.
” You have done well, but I call on you to further block all other grey areas .”

Engr. Sambo further reiterated the commitment of the Federal Government to ensuring that the Lekki Deep Seaport project commences operations as scheduled before the end of 2022.

According to him, the Lekki Deep Seaport and the recently approved Badagry Deep Sea Port would create an avenue for jobs for Nigerians,  encourage trade and investments and further boost revenue generation for the country.

The Minister further called on his host to ensure the full implementation of barge operations at the Ports to further facilitate the movement of goods from the seaports.

He said this would also be beneficial to the nation in the area of more jobs for those in the business of fabrication as well as reduce the cost of doing business by investors.

” We are ready to assist you in ensuring that the use of barges is fully implemented in your operations.
” We need to work the talk whilst we wait for the conclusion of other means of evacuation of boxes from the ports to cushion the effect of logistics through land transportation”

Earlier,  Bello Koko informed his guests of his management’s resolve to further position the nation’s sea ports in line with International best practices.

He appreciated the efforts of the Ministry in providing support to the Authority at all times, whilst soliciting assistance in other areas of operations.

The NPA MD assured the Minister and his team that the present management under his watch would ensure that operations of its services are further improved upon in view of the constant global competitiveness towards attaining a hub status within the sub-Sahara Africa.

Koko stated that NPA has begun the process of acquiring additional tug boats and pilot cutters for its officials to facilitate the operations.

This, he said, would further reduce vessel waiting time and attract investments to the ports.

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Headlines

Transport Minister collaborates with army, others to secure release of 23 remaining Abuja-Kaduna train attack victims

Abuja- Kaduna train attack victims

 

The Eyewitness reporter
The Minister of Transportation, Engr Muazu Sambo, has given vent to his vow to facilitate the release of the Abuja- Kaduna train attack victims when, in collaboration with other members of the seven-man Presidential  Action Committee assembled by the Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), General L E O Irabor, secured the release and took custody of all the 23 remaining passengers held hostage by Boko Haram Terrorists following the attack on the Abuja to Kaduna train on 28-3-2022.
As a result of the deft negotiating skills of the members of the committee, the terrorists on Wednesday freed 23 remaining captives of the Abuja- Kaduna train attack.
This was disclosed by the Secretary of the Chief of Defence Staff Action Committee,  Professor Usman Yusuf.

Yusuf said that the hostages were released at about 4 pm on Wednesday.

He said that the committee took custody of the victims who were kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists during an attack on a moving passenger train in Kaduna on March 28, 2022.

The terrorists, who attacked the AK9 Train in Kaduna, had before now released hostages piecemeal with the last release being on August 19, 2022.

“The nation owes a debt of gratitude to the Nigerian Military under the leadership of the CDS who conceived and guided the operation from start to finish.
“All sister security agencies and the Federal Ministry of Transportation contributed immensely to this Operation.
“The unwavering support of the President and Commander in Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari GCEFR is what made it all possible.
” Members of this Committee are grateful for the rare honour and privilege to be part of this Humanitarian Operation” declared Prof. Yusuf.
The insurgents had blown up the rail track and bombed the moving train, killing some and abducting more than 60 passengers.
The unprecedented attack had attracted international and national outrage.

Distraught family members had protested several times to demand the release of their loved ones.

Worried about the situation, the Nigeria Railway Corporation temporarily suspended activities, with President Muhammadu Buhari directing security agencies to rescue the victims after he met their families.

The Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo, had said the Abuja-Kaduna rail line will not resume until all those kidnapped by bandits in March are rescued and reunited with their families.

A terrorist negotiator, Tukur Mamu, was on September 6, 2022, arrested in Cairo, Egypt while on his way to Saudi Arabia and returned to Nigeria the next day.

The Department of State Services had alleged that Mamu, who negotiated between terrorists and families of kidnap victims, was part of an international terrorist network and used the cover of journalism to perpetrate his deeds.

Popular Kaduna-based Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, to whom Mamu is an aide, had faulted the arrest of Mamu.

Gumi had asked the security agency to charge Mamu to court if it had any evidence against him, rather than keeping him in custody.

But the DSS, in its reaction, said it would not be distracted by some skewed narratives in the media and requested to be left alone to concentrate on the ongoing investigations, the outcomes of which it said have remained ‘mind boggling’.

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EyeWitness Lens

Eyewitness Lens! NPA celebrates global Customer service week(Photo)

Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello Koko
(6 th left)), Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Adenrele S. Adesina
(5 th left)), the General Manager, SERVICOM, Shehu Musa Yaro (4 th left) and
other senior officers of the NPA during the celebration of 2022 global
Customer Service Week at the NPA headquarters in Lagos.
Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello Koko
(5 th left)), Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Adenrele S. Adesina
(6 th left)), the General Manager, SERVICOM, Shehu Musa Yaro (4th left) and
officers of the SERVICOM department during the celebration of 2022
global Customer Service Week at the NPA headquarters in Lagos.
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