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Okorocha’s pension scam lands Owerri in massive protest by pensioners

Just as Business Hilights had reported Tuesday that the planned plot by the Imo State Government to rip off retied old men and women who had served the state during their youthful days had been rejected, the story was further confirmed yesterday afternoon when hundreds of pensioners marched along major streets of Owerri, the Imo capital to protest payment of only 40 per cent arrears of pension to retirees by the Imo Government.

It would be recalled that the Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha had during a well publicized press conference in Owerri held his shoulder high claiming that he will be the first governor to clear pension arrears and pay their December pension before the end of December.

Many Nigerians that watched his made the boost never knew that he was building a castle in the air until we opened up the can or worms which was further followed by the victims who arrived at Orlu Road Roundabout Owerri the take-off point of the protest as early as 7.30 a.m. with placards.

Addressing aggrieved protesters; many of whom said they did not take breakfast before coming, Chief Gideon Ezeji, Imo Chairman, National Union of Pensioners (NUP), said “the protest was to expose the sufferings of Imo pensioners under the administration of Gov. Rochas Okorocha”.

According to our correspondent who was on ground, Ezeji gave horrific accounts of the arrears saying six different categories of pensioners were owed between 22 months and 77 months by the state government.

“Civil pensioners are owed 22 months, local government pensioners 23 months, retired primary school teachers 32 months, IBC pensioners 44 months, retired permanent secretaries 22 months and Alvan Ikoku pensioners 77 months,’’ Ezeji said.

He rejected government’s move to pay 40 per cent of the accumulated pension arrears, adding that forfeiture of the 60 per cent arrears was unacceptable and cannot stand no matter whatever devilish undertaking many of them had been deceived to sign.

Continuing, Ezeji said “The government is now using its agents to force pensioners to sign document it prepared, which by extension will make any pensioner that signs the document to forfeit his/her 60 per cent arrears.

“We say no to 40 per cent payment of arrears of pension and call on the Imo Government to pay us 100 per cent before Dec.23, 2016,’’ Ezeji demanded.

The protest started from Orlu Road roundabout at about 8.30 a.m. from where they marched to Government House Roundabout.

The pensioners carried placards with various inscriptions such as: “Pay the much you can, government is a continuum; pension is our right and not gratification.’’

Efforts to get any reaction failed as at press time.