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FG, FMBN, pensioners ‘tango’ over N4.7b unpaid benefits

By Collins Olayinka, Abuja
10 December 2021   |   4:03 am
Retirees, under the aegis of Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) chapter, have accused the bank of ignoring a court order that directed it to offset their terminal benefits of N4.7 billion.

Retirees, under the aegis of Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) chapter, have accused the bank of ignoring a court order that directed it to offset their terminal benefits of N4.7 billion.

The pension arrears started in 1993 when the mortgage bank was divided into two – Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria and Federal Mortgage Finance Limited – for operational reasons.

While retirees of the FMBN are receiving their pensions and other emoluments, those from Federal Mortgage Finance have not been paid.

National President of the branch, Ladipo Ani, said in Abuja, yesterday, that the Managing Director the bank, Ahmed Musa Dangiwa, declined to honour a letter written by the Minister of Finance, Dr. Zainab Ahmed, directing him to pay the outstanding benefits.

As a result of the unpaid emoluments, the retired staffers approached the court in 2007 in a suit No. FCT/HC/823/2007. The court then ruled that pension arrears payment is a constitutional matter, which was not negotiable.

Indeed, the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, also intervened in the matter.

On its part, the bank insisted that the request for approval for the payment had not been granted by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

Head, Corporate Communications, FMBN, Ahmed Mohammed, when contacted for reaction, yesterday, said: “The request for the approval for the payment is with the Federal Executive Council (FEC). It is only the FEC that can approve the directive of the court. The matter is beyond what the FMBN can handle. The managing director has forwarded the request to FEC.”

MEANWHILE, a document from the office of the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance, Aliyu Ahmed, dated June 7, 2021 with Ref. No. F6847/T/504 to the Minister of Works and Housing rejected request for the payment of the judgment debt in favour of the pensioners.

The office contended that by the virtue of the Pension Reforms Act, 2014, the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) only assumes responsibility to pay pension for some defunct Federal Government agencies in line with the directive/approval from the President.

It added that the FMBN is still in existence and inherited the assets of the defunct Federal Mortgage Finance Limited, “in turns liabilities’ being its subsidiary, and is therefore not a defunct Federal Government agency, saying: “The defendants are liable to the judgment of the Federal High Court, hence the need to work out agreeable modalities with the affected pensioners for the settlement of their benefits.”