Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State has ordered an investigation into the alleged extortion of retirees by staff of the state’s Audit Department.
The governor, in a statement by his spokesperson, Emmanuel Uzor, ordered the state Auditor-General and the Fiscal Responsibility Commission to thoroughly investigate the matter.
He vowed that anyone found culpable would face the wrath of the law as his administration will not tolerate sabotage of government policies and programmes.
Mr. Umahi, however, said the issues surrounding the non-payment of pension and gratuities in the state were hinged on “criminal padding and doctoring” of the entitlements of some retired civil servants, which forced the state government to set up a committee set up to look into the matter and harmonize the payment.
“This criminal inflation and doctoring of figures as noticed in the payroll of pensioners and retirees led to (the setting up of) a special committee in charge of harmonizing the proper entitlements accruable to each pensioner and retiree in the state and the committee chaired by the Deputy Governor has been working hard to ensure that no pensioner is left behind,” the governor stated.
“It is therefore surprising that some retired civil servants still allege extortion from officials of the audit unit even when the payment of pension entitlements accruable to civil servants are not within the jurisdiction of the Auditor-General of Ebonyi State”.
Mr. Umahi noted that “it is also possible that those who allege extortion were part of some bad eggs who look for ways of inflating and doctoring their entitlements in connivance with some officials in the state audit by refusing to appear before the Deputy Governor-led harmonization committee to determine the proper entitlements accruable to each pensioner”.
“Consequently, the governor directs all retired civil servants who have not completed their physical capturing to do so as those who have completed their physical capturing have been duly paid their retirement entitlements”.
The governor urged the people involved to present themselves to the office of the Deputy Governor saddled with the responsibility of ensuring speedy payments of workers entitlements instead of “looking for shortcut to defraud the state government.”
He reiterated his decision to pay all pensions and gratuities owed retired civil servants since 1999 till date.