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THE POST EXPRESS (Aug 30, 2001)

By Folaby Jimoh

The plight of retired military personnel whose pensions have long been delayed may soon end as the military authorities have release N3 billion to pay part of the arrears.

Subsequently, N1.9 billion will be released monthly to cater for the monthly pension claims. This was announced on Tuesday by the President-General of the Global Peace Movement (GPM), Mr. Mike Uyi, at a press briefing cum rally for mililary pensioners, held in front of the Directorate of Military Pensions (DMP) at Alexander Avenue, Ikoyi, Lagos.

It would be recalled that for several months, many of the pensioners have been hanging in the vicinity of the DMP at Ikoyi hoping to get their pension problems settled but to no avail.

Many of the aged pensioners, from different parts of the country, have been stranded in Lagos as a result of the non-payment of their pensions. They have since been living andfeeding on humanitarian hand-outs from bodies like the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and other non-governmental organisations.

As a result, up to 50 of the pensioners have reportedly died so far with the latest death occurring on Monday, August 27, when a certain Abukadiri collapsed and died.

Mr. Uyi said the military authorities had agreed to release money immediately to settle the claims and arrears of genuine military pensioners, as soon as such claims were verified And to back that promise with action, Uyi said the military authorities had already released N3 billion to that effect. Subsequently, the sum of N1.9 billion will be released monthly to cater for the pension claims.

Mr. Uyi said GPM took up the case of the pensioners since July 4 and "We have taken it to the highest level since then," he said He also said some of the pensioners have been discharged for about 20 years ago without being paid any money whether in the form of gratuities or pensions.

Mr. Uyi said the decisions reached at the Abuja meeting were as follows: o That representatives of medical batch;
o pensioners (maximum of 3) in company of the President of GPM were to report to DHQ to determine the authenticity of their claims in their normal roll, copies of their discharge certificates and any other documents they deem fit

On the "zero cheques" issued to some of the pensioners with which they were unable to cash any money, Uyi said the military authorities explained that the bank's computer would return the cheque as "zero sum of naira," if it detected any error discrepancies to the data of the pensioners concerned It was further clarified that all such cheques had been subsequently cleared and paid accordingly, save only six of them whose holders have refused to represent them to the military authorities for corrections to be effected on them to facilitate their payment.

The meeting at Abuja, which was chaired by Rear Admiral P.O. Ebhaleme, Director of Administration at DHQ also had in attendance, Major-General H.U. Clark, Director of Administration, Mrs, A.O. Adeleye, Director of DMP, Commander Bee Ibe Enwo, Secretary of NA-COA, Mr. D.K Yohanna, the representative of Chattered Bank's Managing Director, three representatives of the pensioners and Mr. Uyi himself.

Uyi, who said the briefing was just to intimate the press that somebocfy has finally taken up the case and was being addressed, expressed confidence to "we have gone there, there is no compromise about it... they are going to pay this money."

He said "Unlike before when they are here and nobody talked about them, now things have changed," he said.

"I've told them of the dangers of living men that were trained in armstobe scattered here like children. If they decided to be violent, this country cannot contain them. So, the best thing to do is to pay them and let them go and rest in their homes. Let them establish themselves."

Meanwhile, at the same venue, there was a number of placard carrying participants in the rally whose case are also being taken up by GPM. They were said to be former driver-employees of Chevron, the American oil giant at the companies headquarters in Lekki.

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