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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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Freight Monitor

President Buhari to commission multi-billion naira Dala Inland dry port Monday –Ahmad Rabiu

The Eyewitness reporter
All is set for the commissioning of the Dala International inland dry port on Monday 31st January 2023 by President Muhammad Buhari at Zawachiki in Kumbotso local government area of Kano state.
The Managing Director of the international inland dry port Ahmad Rabiu, stated this while addressing newsmen on the preparation for the inauguration of the port at its headquarters in Kano.
Ahmad Rabiu, who was joined by the chairman of the inland dry port, Alhaji Abubakar Sahabu Bawuro, said its the first international inland dry port where cargoes will go anywhere in the world from Kano state without follow up to any sea ports across Nigeria.
Ahmad Rabiu told newsmen that the federal government under President Muhammad Buhari has given all the support required for the take-up, noting that they have met the requirement on infrastructure and other critical amenities.
The MD said the stacking area has the capacity of containing 20 thousand units of containers before moving anywhere at any time, noting that the area covers six hectares of land and the management is willing to add more.
According to Ahmad Rabiu, all the requirements needed for clearance by businessmen, and customs duty will be done right from Kano without follow-up to any seaport in Nigeria.
On his part, the chairman of Dala Inland Dry Port, Alhaji Abubakar Sahabu Bawuro said the management of the port is prepared technically, and physically with interested partners and is going to boost businesses in Kano, Nigeria and Africa in general and urged members of the press to partner with the management in ensuring efficiency, emphasizing that the place is not a monument but a business venture.
The chairman said Dala Inland Dry Port is now a solution to the problems brought about by the seaports and they will introduce cargo tracking and door-to-door delivery of goods and services.
He said the success of the inland dry port is a joint venture between the state government, the business community, regulatory agencies and the Federal Government of Nigeria and to make business in Kano and its neighborhood more competitive.
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Freight Monitor

CRFFN rejects re-appointment bid of ousted Sam Nwakohu

Ousted CRFFN Registrar, Nwakohu
— appoints Uromta as Acting Registrar
—-shops for substantive Registrar.
The Eyewitness reporter
The Council for the Registration of Freight forwarding Practice in Nigeria (CRFFN) has thrown out the re-election bid of the outgoing Registrar of the Council, Sam Nwakohu.
In an emergency meeting of the council Thursday at its Abuja liaison office, the Council appointed Mrs. Chinyere Uromta, the Director of Regulations and Enforcement, as an acting Registrar pending the time a substantive registrar will be appointed.
The decision of the council to reject the reelection bid of the ousted Registrar was based on the recommendations of its ad hoc committee to look into the request of Nwakohu for a second term tenure.
The outgoing registrar, last year, at the December meeting of the council, submitted a letter, requesting to be considered for a second term shot at the lucrative position.
Consequently, the Chairman of the Council, Alhaji Abubakar Tsanni set up an ad-hoc committee, headed by Efeanyi Isikaku, to look into the request of Nwakohu and submit its report in two weeks.
“Following the completion of its assignment and submission of its report, the council, therefore, convened today (Thursday)in Abuja to deliberate on the next line of action to be taken in respect of the committee’s recommendations.
” The AdHoc committee made important recommendations with reference to the provisions of Public Service Rules as well as the council’s Act.
“The committee however, recommended that in order to avoid a vacuum after the expiration of the Registrar’s tenure, the council shall start making arrangements for a handover of the Registrar’s office to the most senior management staff of the council.
“Similarly, the committee also recommended that the Appointment Promotion and Discipline committee of the council be directed to start making preparations for reappointment or appointment of substantive Registrar”  Muftahu Ya’u, the chairman Committee on Media and Publicity of the governing council,  declared in a statement he sent to our reporter.
 “Finally, the council’s chairman soon after the adoption, approval, and ratification of the committee’s recommendations by members of the council directed the followings:
that arrangement for the Registrar’s handover to Mrs. Chinyere Uromta  Director, Regulations and Enforcement on 31st of January 2023.
“That committee on Appointment Promotion and Discipline go ahead to start preparations for reappointment/appointment of a new Registrar” the head of media and publicity of the council concluded.
It could be recalled that soon after Nwakohu made his ambition known to succeed himself as the Registrar of the council, he went on a lobbying spree, trying to woo the council members to buy into his ambition.
But sources close to the council whispered to our reporter that the second term bid of Nwakohu was dead on arrival due to lots of baggage he carries.
“There was no way he could have succeeded in his obnoxious bid to succeed himself.
Firstly, it was a general consensus among the freight forwarding confraternity that Nwakohu failed woefully as the registrar.
“He is incompetent, arrogant and someone not ready to learn,” a highly placed source said.
“Also, several allegations of financial sleaze against him have not been cleared.
“Similarly, the council members were not happy at the way Nwakohu handled the purchase of the CRFFN Abuja liaison office which cost they felt was inflated.
“All these and other uncharitable behavior of the outgoing registrar are enough reasons not to reappoint him as the Council registrar” the source claimed.
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Headlines

Transportation ministry inaugurates project committee for Ondo, Benin seaports

 

The Eyewitness reporter
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transportation, Dr Magdalene Ajani, has inaugurated
a Project Steering Committee for the proposed Ondo Deep & Benin Seaports.
Dr. Magdalene Ajani, while inaugurating the Committee on behalf of the Nigerian government at the ministry’s headquarters in Abuja Wednesday,  stated that the Committee is saddled with providing guidance and direction on the projects.
She also charged the members of the committee to also facilitate necessary permits, clearance & approvals for the projects.
The permanent secretary said it is also the responsibility of the committee to prepare the transaction for the Hon. Minister of Transportation, Alhaji Muazu Sambo, to obtain the approval of tte Federal Executive Council.
She charged them to hit the ground running immediately.
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