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Protests rock Benin City over unpaid pensions, insecurity

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Protesters at the Edo State House of Assembly yesterday

•1,500 clerics to storm state for prayers
Aggrieved pensioners and civil society groups in Edo State yesterday staged various protests in Benin City. While the pensioners protested against the arrears of unpaid pensions and gratuities, the civil society groups lamented the insecurity in the state.

Activities were disrupted as the civil society groups, under the aegis of Edo Civil Society Organisations (EDOSCO) and the pensioners occupied different parts of the city centre.

The pensioners, dressed in red attire, were drawn from the 18 local council areas in the state. According to them, the governor reneged on its agreement to pay them their entitlements ranging from five to 42 months. Their spokesperson, Gabriel Osemwingie, said the debts accumulated following the unwarranted closure of the state pensions board since November 2015.

In a nine-point statement by the Coordinator and Secretary-General of EDOSCO, Omobude Agho and Godspower Okumbor, they urged the governor to account for the N4billion so far voted for security in the state.

They also tasked the state House of Assembly “to summon an urgent a town hall meeting where all stakeholders could deliberate on the current security challenges and chart a way forward without delay.”

The Speaker, Kabiru Adjoto, received them and appealed for calm, adding that the state government was on top of the situation.

A statement by the governor’s Special Adviser on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, said the state had released some funds, as part of a phased approach in offsetting the pension arrears, which accrued for over a 20-year period.

Meanwhile, eminent Christian clerics numbering over 1, 500, would converge on the city from next week, to pray against the growing insecurity.

The seven-day convention tagged “Bible Alive Believers International Convention (BABIC)” is being organised by the Gospel Light International Ministry (GLIM) New Covenant Gospel Church (NCGC).

A statement by the National President of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Rev. Felix Omobude, disclosed this. He said the worshippers would pray against the “rising spate of violence, insurgency, kidnapping, armed robbery, assassination and other criminalities.”

Other clerics expected at the convention are Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, Bishop Mike Okonkwo, Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo, Bishop Simeon Okah, Pastor Lawrence Achudume and Dr. Reggies Wenyika.


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