John Adams, Minna
Following the controversy surrounding the payment of pension to former governors and their deputies, Niger government has said it did not owe pension to its former governors.
The government said it paid what it called severance allowance to the departing political heads.
According to a statement by the Director General of the state pension board, Alhaji Ahmed Tinau Mohammed, beneficiaries of severance allowance are political heads at state and local government levels, which also include former governors and their deputies, local government chairmen, deputies and state legislators and councillors
“The severance allowance is not a recurring perpetual payouts but a one-time payment authorised under extant state law. These payments (severance allowance) are supported by an extant law to provide special grants/severance allowances to all political office holders in the state, including governors and their deputies, 2013.”
He said the clarification became necessary following the inclusion of Niger State in the list of states owing ex-governors’ pension.
Tinau asserted that “to the best of my knowledge, there was no state law, past or present, that awards a regular pension to be paid to former Niger State governors as pension. The gospel truth is that the state does not pay a dime to our former governors as pension.”
Meanwhile, the local government elections in the state has taken a different dimension as police teargassed several Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) supporters who were protesting the cancellation of the results for the chairmanship election in Tafa Local Government Area.
Several supporters of the party had taken to the streets and attempted to block the Kaduna-Abuja expressway when policemen exploded several canisters of teargas to disperse them.
The state Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) on Monday announced the cancellation of the chairmanship election in Tafa, saying the results could not be collated due to the disappearance of the returning officer.
The commission Chairman, Alhaji Aminu Bala, told journalists that the whereabouts of the returning was unknown.
However our correspondent gathered that the policemen also shot live bullets into the air but injury was recorded.
A television reporter, Emperor Simon and the cameraman, Abdul Egba who were on the scene were said to have been manhandled by policemen and their camera seized.
Simon confirmed that his cameraman was whisked away along with the camera.
Chairman of the Correspondent Chapel of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Mr Aideloje Ojo, said an official report had been made to the Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Adamu Usman, who promised to “look into the matter.”
Ojo described the action of the police as unwarranted and unprovoked attack on journalists who were performing their legitimate duties.