AG alleges embezzlement of N4b by Kogi civil servants
The Auditor General of Kogi State, Yakubu Okala, has revealed that N4 billion belonging to pensioners was diverted to private pockets.He said the scam was perpetrated by a few individuals who were saddled with the responsibility of handling the pension funds in five years.
He spoke at a sensitisation workshop for local council employees on the advantages of the contributory pension scheme adopted by the state government.
Okala hinted that the state was weighed down by an outstanding N256 billion gratuities due to corruption.
He said the amount was broken down to an estimate of N6 billion outstanding gratuity for state pensioners and N250 billion for local council pensioners.
Lamenting the situation, he described the Kogi State Pensions Board as a conduit pipe through which civil servants have been defrauding pensioners hence the untold hardship and pitiable condition they have been subjected to for many years.
Okala, who is also Chairman, Kogi State Pension Reform Committee, pointed out that many civil servants have been scrambling to be posted to the board, as their place of assignment because it was a milk cow where they lined their pockets to the detriment of pensioners.
He said this was so as most of their entitlements were not paid to them after retirement but were shared among the civil servants.Okala indicated that the endemic corruption was higher at the local councils with each council having an outstanding gratuity of not less than N10 billion.
He said the previous scheme was riddled with many loopholes that created the opportunity for the civil servants to carry out the illegalities.He said when he was appointed as auditor general many civil servants approached him to be posted to the Pension Board.
“In December 2015 alone, N255 million was diverted. The money was released but a few senior management staff in the Pensions Board connived and diverted the money.
“So, I now began to see why people were scrambling to be posted to the Pensions Board. How on earth can N35, 000 in 1000 places meant for dead and elderly person is shared by few people leaving the aged to languish in abject poverty?
He said the discovery was a tip of the iceberg, prompting the audit, which revealed that between 2010 and 2015, N4 billion pensions fund released by government were diverted to private pockets.
Also speaking, Chairman of the state Pensions Bureau, Sa’adatu Ahuoyiza Atima, disclosed that for the success of the new contributory pension scheme, the state government would contribute 10 per cent while the workers will contribute 8 per cent. She described the scheme as safe and laudable, urging all workers to key into the scheme.
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