Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi has ordered a probe into allegations of malpractices in the payment of pensions of retired civil servants in the state.
Some staff of the audit unit of the office of the Auditor-General of the state have been accused of extorting money from pensioners to facilitate their pension payments.
Umahi, in a release by his Chief Press Secretary, Emmanuel Uzor, expressed dismay over the alleged extortions.
According to him, the state government will do everything within its powers to get to the root of the matter.
“The issues surrounding the non-payment of pension and gratuities in the state had been hinged on criminal padding and inflation of pensions and gratuities.
“This criminal inflation and doctoring of figures as noticed in the payroll of pensioners, led to setting up a special committee in charge of harmonising entitlements accruable to pensioners in the state.
“The committee headed by the Deputy Governor has been working assiduously to ensure that no pensioner is shortchanged or omitted,” he said.
Umahi expressed surprise that some retired civil servants still alleged extortion by officials of the audit unit, even when the accruable payments were not within the jurisdiction of the auditor-general.
“It is possible that those who alleged extortion were the bad eggs who inflated or altered their entitlements in connivance with some staff of the audit department,” he said.
The governor said that such people had refused to appear before the deputy governor led-harmonisation committee to prevent the determination of their proper entitlements.
“The people involved in this issue should appear before the office of the deputy governor saddled with the speedy payment of pensions instead of looking for shortcuts to defraud the state government.
“Consequently, all retired civil servants who have not completed their physical capturing should immediately do so as those that have completed theirs have been duly paid,” he said.
The governor said that he had directed the Head of Service, the auditor-general and the Fiscal Responsibility Commission of the state to expeditiously investigate the alleged pension scam.
“Anybody found culpable will be made to face the wrath of the law as this administration will not tolerate such deliberate sabotage of government policies and programmes,” he added.
He directed the pensioners allegedly exploited to report to the office of the Chief Press Secretary, Government House, Abakaliki, and officially lodge their complaints,” he said.