Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, has said billions of naira are frequently diverted by corrupt pension managers.
He stated this at a two-day national summit tagged: “Eradication of Pension Fraud in Nigeria.”
Bawa said 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.
According to him, “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 lamented.
Also speaking, the secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, described pension fraud as heinous, insensitive and condemnable. He commended the synergy among the stakeholders, which, he said, will permit the 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 had resolved to deal with criminal acts of pension fraud in all ramifications.
Mustapha said the Muhammadu Buhari administration had 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 N55 billion to settle outstanding pension arrears, placement of 3,542 pensioners of the Delta Steel Company on the payroll, placement of over 2,000 staff members of the defunct Nigerian Telecommunication Limited (NITEL) on the payroll, approval of funds for the entitlement of dismissed Biafran police officers and the settlement of claims of disengaged employees of the defunct Nigeria Airways.
Presenting a paper entitled, “Case Study: Analysis of Fraud in Pension Administration in Nigeria, The EFCC Experience”, Abdulkarim Chukkol, director of Operations at EFCC, highlighted the gaps in the existing pension arrangements frequently exploited by criminal elements in both the public and private sectors.
He said the country has lost several billions of naira in the process.