By Amaka Egwu-Agha
Ebonyi state Governor Engr. David Umahi, has ordered full scale investigation into the alleged extortion of some pensioners and retirees by staff of the audit unit in the office of the Auditor General of the state.
The governor gave the order in a statement released by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Emmanuel Uzor.
It would be recalled that some retirees on Tuesday lamented alleged extortion and withholding of their files by some officials of the state audit.
One Mr. Anyigor, a retiree, said “I was supposed to be paid N4, 787, 081. Government has paid me N800, 000 but one of the officials in the state audit, Ucha and his colleague, who have been processing my file for payment, said I should settle them with N200,000 out of this amount or my file will not be sent to the Head of Service for payment.
“I have already given them N50, 000 out of the N200, 000. I told them that I will pay the remaining N150, 000 after receiving full payment of the gratuity from the government which they have started paying.
But Ucha increased the amount of settlement to N500, 000 and insisted that I must pay him the amount before he releases my file to the Head of Service for the payment and I don’t have the amount.”
He said he retired as a level 8 step 15 officer from the General Hospital, Onueke in Ezza South local government area of the state.
Another pensioner, who pleaded anonymity, alleged that he was asked to pay N700,000 ‘fee’ as settlement to enable his file processed and pushed out for immediate payment.
In the statement, the governor’s spokesman said, “the attention of the Governor of Ebonyi state, Engr Dr. David Nweze Umahi, has been drawn to the publications in some national dailies alleging extortion of some pensioners and retirees by staff of the audit unit in the office of the Auditor General of Ebonyi state and wishes to put the records straight.
“While the Governor expresses dismay over the alleged extortion, he has ordered full scale investigation into the scandal.
“The issues surrounding the non-payment of pension and gratuities in the state had been hinged on what he described as criminal padding and inflation of pension and gratuities accruable to some retired civil servants in the state which led to the committee set up by the state Executive Council to look into the matter and harmonise the payment.”
According to the statement, “the criminal inflation and doctoring of figures as noticed in the payroll of pensioners and retirees led to a special committee in charge of harmonising the proper entitlements accruable to each pensioner and retiree in the state and the committee chaired by the deputy Governor has been working hard to ensure that no pensioner is left behind.
“It is therefore surprising that some retired civil servants still allege extortion from officials of the audit unit even when the payment of pension entitlements accruable to civil servants are not within the jurisdiction of the Auditor General of Ebonyi state.”
The governor also reiterated his earlier commitment to pay all pensions and gratuities owed retired civil servants since 1999 till date and
urged those concerned to present themselves to the office of the deputy Governor saddled with the responsibility of ensuring speedy payment of workers’ entitlements instead of looking for shortcut to defraud the state.