The National Pension Commission and its chieftains, past and present, are unsettled by serious allegations leveled against its management by a civil society group.
Jude Emeka-Abuja (September 16th,2016)-Following widely publicised reports of alleged scam and infractions at the National Pension Commission, key players within the commission are jittery as unconfirmed reports said discreet anti-graft investigations have commenced on the matter.
The pension commission manages about N54 trillion pension fund through licenced pension custodians and administrators. A civil society group, the Centre for Public Accountability had alleged that the commission has not accounted for its annual collection of 0.3percent of the asset fees on the pension fund from 2013 to date, totaling about N42 billion.
Alhaji Adamu Muazu, former National Chairman of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party was the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the pension commission until after the 2015 election.
Unconfirmed reports indicated that ever since the report of the alleged scam was published, the former Bauchi state governor have been having sleepless nights.
Top management of the commission are reportedly tension soaked especially as reports indicated that the Presidency is conducting discreet investigations into the widely publicised news report.
Curiously too, the commission has kept mum about the alleged scam and infractions,leading to allegations of plot to sweep the matter under the carpet.
Muazu was said to be worried as there are allegations that the pension commission part – funded the re-election bid of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
While efforts to reach the former governor has proved abortive so far, checks showed that the dragnet is widening and may soon reach serving and ex-board chairmen and others.
The Centre for Public Accountability, CPA, had earlier urged President Muhammadu Buhari to order an immediate investigation into an allegation of sundry fraudulent practices in the National Pensions Commission, PENCOM.
According to newsreports,the centre in a statement signed by its Executive Director, Comrade Olufemi Lawson, stated that the petition is to bring to the president’s attention the long list of infractions, mismanagement and maladministration that is ongoing at the commission under the leadership of Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu.
A copy of CPA’s petition, published by DAILY POST on Monday, reads: “Mr. President, as you may be aware, the Pension Reform Act was enacted in 2004 for sustainable management of retirement benefits of citizens who worked within the public or private sectors of the federation. As at today, the accumulated pension assets stand at about N5.4 trillion. From that period to date, we want to assert that the commission has never been in the worst state than it is today.
“We affirm that the commission is bedeviled with multiple infractions, violations of the law and widespread corruption that warrant immediate and urgent attention of Mr. President.”
Raising its first issue on the annual collection, CPA alleged that the Commission is mismanaging the 0.3 per cent annual fees on pension assets, thereby calling for a thorough investigation into it.
“The commission collects annually, 0.3 per cent on the total pension assets which presently stands at N5.4 trillion. Annually the commission collects about N15billion as fees which it spends without any accountability.
“We challenge the commission to publish how it has expended that annual fund which is regarded as slush fund by insiders. As at December 2015, the current Director General of PENCOM has collected N42 billion which she cannot account for till date.
“We specifically call on the President to order an immediate investigation into how the N42 billion fees collected by the commission was expended from 2012 to date.”
The Center similarly alleged that the Commission’s DG is involved in illegal application of regulatory powers, stating that there are obvious cases of harassment and selfish tendencies in the leadership of the commission.
“In addition to not implementing statutory provision as above, records showed that the commission under the current Director General has deployed regulatory powers of the commission for selfish, illegal and family usage. Pension administrators and custodians are harassed and subjected to unholy surcharges including share takeover among others.
“Currently, the families of commission Director Generals are the owners of Premium Pension. May we also inform you, that the commission also took over First Guarantee Pension under flimsy excuses and has refused to obey court orders directing a return of the firm to the owners. For more than five years, the commission held on to the firm and is scheming to sell it to interest known to be close to its Director General.”
While describing the annual World Pension being hosted by PENCOM as a wasteful expenditure, the Centre said the country is set to waste almost a million naira for a jamboree like event at a time the country is in recession.
“Annually, the commission plays host to the World Pension Summit, a body owned by two brothers from the United States. The commission forced pension administrators and custodians to pay participation fees while the commission itself spends almost a billion naira annually to host the annual event. The 2016 edition of that event is scheduled to hold by September 27 to 28 in Transcorp Hilton Abuja.
“In this era of recession, this is not just wasteful but corruption laden and out of tune with the spirit of the era. We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Director General to stop the summit forthwith as Nigeria and pensioners can ill afford such wasteful and extravagant event meant to enrich a family alleged to be working on behalf of the commission management.”
The Centre also highlighted the non-implementation of transfer window by the Commission, stating that, “Nigerians deserve to know why depositors are not allowed to migrate if they so wish. We want to know why billions are spent without such migration being realized.”
Urging the president to urgently beam a searchlight on the activities of the commission, it said, “that sector needs urgent clean up if the world, pensioners and workers are to take the administration seriously.
Among other requests to the president, CPA said, “We also call for an immediate investigation into the activities of PENCOM, under its present leadership, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and the Independent Corruption Practices and other related offences related Commission, ICPC.”