From Obinna Odogwu, Abakaliki
Some pensioners in Ebonyi State Tuesday raised the alarm over alleged criminal acts of some workers in the state’s audit office who allegedly demand financial gratification before their files are prepared for payment of entitlements.
The retirees alleged that already, some of them had complied with the demands of the workers of the department. Each retiree, according to them, pays as high as N200,000 to the workers.
Trouble, Daily Sun gathered, started when the leader of the workers’ illicit body demanded an increment in the tip from N200,000 to N500,000 per retiree. Some of them have already paid while some others were still making efforts to make up the money.
One of the retirees who was not pleased with the new arrangement, Mr. Benedict Anyigor, told newsmen in Abakaliki that he had already paid N50,000. He alleged that his file has been withheld by the accused officials of the audit department who he alleged have been extorting money from him.
“I was to be paid N4,787,081. Out of this amount, government has paid me N800,000 but one of the officials in the state audit and his colleague who have been processing my file for payment, said I should settle them with N200,000 for immediate payment or my file will not be sent to the Head of Service.
“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 he 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. I don’t have such money. I retired as a Level 8 Step 15 officer at the General Hospital, Onueke in Ezza South Local Government Area of the state.
Another retiree who did not want his name mentioned alleged that he was asked to pay N700,000 because his gratuity was relatively higher than that of others. He alleged the workers demand that he must pay the amount before his file would be processed and pushed out for immediate payment.
Governor David Umahi had released N1.5 billion for payment of gratuity and arrears of pensions of retired workers in the state and ordered the immediate payment.
But since the money was approved for payment, the retirees have been going through difficulties accessing the money.