Ex-service men who fought in the Nigeria Civil War say they have been badly treated.
Scores of military pensioners on Tuesday besieged the National Judicial Institute, NJI, venue of the National Conference, to protest the government’s failure to pay their allowances.
The ex-service men were, however, barred from entering the venue of the National Conference by armed security operatives at the NJI gates.
But the pensioners were not deterred as they sang solidarity songs and displayed placards with inscriptions like, “Our children are out of school. We can no longer cater for our family,” “We are regarded as unproductive today,” “We are being deceived annually.”
The mostly aged and physically challenged pensioners lamented that the Federal Government of Nigeria has failed to address the plight of those who sacrificed their hay days to serve the country.
One of the pensioners, who no longer had his sight, leaned on his walking stick and sometimes squatted on the ground as his colleagues sang by the NJI gates.
The spokesperson for the pensioners and chairman, Ibadan Chapter of the Coalition of Aggrieved Military Veterans, Oaikhena Gabriel, said serving military personnel are enjoying high perks while those, who fought for the unity of the country, are left to suffer untold hardship.
“We fought in the Nigeria Civil War where we lost over 500, 000 soldiers. Those of us who survived are not enjoying anything. We are treated as destitute,” he said.
“How can we continue like this? We fought the war on the side of Nigeria. Why are they treating us as slaves in our fatherland; the land we fought to keep united, the land we shade so much blood to secure?
“That is why we are not happy and we are saying to the world that the government of President Goodluck Jonathan should pay us the 53.37 percent salary increase of 2009/2010 and the accruing three-year arrears. We are tired of waiting.
“We cannot carry guns but if the government were taking good care of us, we would have mobilised our members all over the country to fight Boko Haram.
“We came here to tell the world our plight. We have been used and dumped. We are tired of this. Does it mean that the country we fought for will allow us to die in poverty? Let them pay us our entitlement.”
Mr. Gabriel also called for the pension rate of military pensioners to be upgraded in line with the 2013 salary scale of military personnel and arrears paid from the date the new scale came into effect.
He appealed to journalists to help them tell the world about the injustice that was being done to the men and women who put their lives on the line to preserve the unity of Nigeria.
A security operative attached to the Conference, Ken Chukwurah, met the protesting military pensioners at the NJI gates and promised to communicate their grievances to the leadership of the Conference.
Mr. Chukwurah expressed concern over the plight of the pensioners and appealed to them to be law-abiding while making case for their unpaid allowances.