The Military Pensions Board (MPB) said 10 fake military pensioners had been arrested during the recently conducted verification exercise for retirees displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East.
Chairman of the board, AVM Muhammad Dabo, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
Dabo said the suspects were arrested at the venue of the exercise held in Yola, Adamawa, recently, with documents of some deceased military pensioners.
He said the suspects had been handed over to the relevant authorities for further investigation and prosecution.
“We got information from various retirees that they were not able to attend the last verification exercise due to the situation as at that time. Some of them relocated to Cameroon and other neighboring countries like Niger.
We have been able to verify those that are genuine among them but we also discovered some are fake. Some of them are children of deceased retirees who came with the documents of dead pensioners and wanted to be enrolled as actual retirees, which is not possible.
We also discovered that some of them wanted to use the opportunity to circumvent the process so that they can be enrolled illegally but it was blocked and we arrested about 10 of them,’’ he said.
On the gains of the verification conducted in October 2015, AVM Dabo said it was one of the major achievements of the present administration in the pensions sub-sector.
He said the board had been able to update its data bank and had ascertained the exact number of military pensioners who were alive.
The chairman said money amounting to several billions of naira had been saved as many dead pensioners, whose names were hitherto on the board’s payroll, were dropped.
Dabo said the board had written to the Ministry of Budget and Planning on the development as regards its allocations in the 2016 budget.
“In the past one year, one of the achievements I can say we are proud of is the successful conduct of the last verification exercise across the country.
We have a huge gap between what we used to pay and what we are currently paying now and that has translated into a savings which we have informed the Ministry of Budget and Planning.
What we budgeted last year was based on the old figure prior to the verification.
However, after the exercise we saw that there was a sharp drop in the number of existing pensioners and that has saved government huge sums of money amounting to billions of naira,’’ Dabo said.
The chairman added that due to the innovations introduced and sustained in the past one year, payment of pensions had been prompt and the complaints made by pensioners had reduced drastically.
According to him, one innovation that has eased pension administration is the involvement of an IT payment platform in the payment of benefits to the pensioners.
He said pensioners were paid their benefits promptly irrespective of their banks due to the measures adopted under the new payment system.
“Prior to the introduction of the single treasury account, we already made arrangement with an IT based recognised payment platform known as the E-transact to be involved in the payment of gratuity.
That helped in prompt payment irrespective of the banks the pensioners are using they get their payments at the same time.
Now with the E-transact, we have been able to ensure prompt payment of benefits to pensioners that is why you no longer here complaints about non-payment,’’ he said.
Dabo added that plans were underway to further simplify future exercises as pensioners would in the near future update their status with their banks instead of traveling long distances for the purpose of verification.
He said in order to make its processes more transparent and easier, the board had in the last one year completed the digitisation process of the Military Pensions Board archives.
According to him, introducing the EDMS, which is the Electronic Document Management System, has made the process of retrieving pensioners’ files easier as all our pensioners’ documents are now electronically stored.