By NBF News

The Nigeria Union of Pension has written to President Goodluck Jonathan over what it describes as irregularities in the payment of pension to federal civil pensioners and the non payment of its check-off dues, said to have been withheld since May 2010.

The pension union told the President that its members would soon embark on street protest since all avenues for peaceful resolution of the issues at stake had failed.

The National President of the NUP, Alhaji Ali Abatcha, and the General Secretary, Elder Actor Zal, said this in the letter dated January 26, 2011, a copy of which was made available to our correspondent in Abuja on Sunday.

The duo said that the union had been left with no other option than to fight back on the issue of the observed fraud and other irregularities associated with the payment of pension to NUP members.

The union members alleged that several pensioners were being short-changed in the introduction of e-payment in May, 2009 and the biometric enrolment verification exercise in June 2010.

Abatcha and Zal said that petitions written to the Chairman Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service, the Chairman, House Committee on Pension Matters, and the office of the President had not influenced the Pension Department of the Head of the Civil Service in the office of the Federation to address the issues marring pension payments.

They alleged that several pensioners had been prevented from accessing their monthly payment with the introduction of e-payment in May, 2009.

They also alleged that thousands of such pensioners had their monthly allowances stopped after the commencement of the biometric enrolment in June 2010.

According to the NUP, several pensioners who were fortunate to have concluded the biometric enrolment between June and July 2010 were issued with dud cheques while others who were paid in June were not paid in the months of July, August and September.

It was further alleged that those who retired in 1999 and 2000 and who participated in the verification exercise, had not been put in the payroll in spite of provisions made for their payment in the 2010 budget.

They alleged that huge sums of money meant for pensioners were stolen and lodged in personal accounts of officials of the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation.

The NUP leaders called on the President to intervene in the plight of the pensioners by empowering the task force on pension to deal with issues affecting pension payments directly rather than reducing its function to administrative issues alone.

They also appealed to the President to prevail on the office of the Head of Service to release the withheld check-off dues to the union without further delay.

'We request the former HOSF to publicise in our national dailies, the breakdown of all the monies paid to pensioners such as the harmonisation, the 12.5percent and regular monthly pensions from June to December, 2010 during his stewardship,' the NUP said in its petition to the President.

The union also urged the President to give the Head of Service, Prof. Oladapo Afolabi, the free hand to look into the issues militating against the payment of pension to the affected retirees.