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STILL ON POLICE PENSION FRAUD

By NBF News
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More startling revelations have been unearthed in the nation's corrupt-ridden pension scheme with the recent disclosure that a Permanent Secretary in the Police Pension Office has been arrested and quizzed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over a fresh N18 billion fraud.

This shows that all is not well with the nation's pension system. It is also a worrisome development that the federal government must do something drastically to check its spread.

According to reports, the suspect, who was caught with N2 billion cash in his residence and other incriminating documents, has been handed over to EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) for prosecution.

While it is pertinent that cases of fraud be diligently investigated and prosecuted by courts of competent jurisdiction, we think that the two anti-graft agencies, the EFCC and ICPC, should not be handling one case. at the same time. A situation where the two agencies are probing the same matter at the same time is not tidy and may lead to confusion, clash of interest and undue waste of time, and resources.

Perhaps, it was this type of situation that made some notable Nigerians to call for a merger of the two agencies since they apparently do the same job. That call is still relevant today.

Regardless of the overlapping role which the agencies play, it is our expectation that whichever agency that is carrying out the investigation in the instant case should be diligent.

It should seek to know how the permanent secretary withdrew such huge sums of money on a daily basis over a period of time without anybody raising an alarm despite the existing financial regulations against such huge withdrawals in our banks. There is every likelihood that it was not only the permanent secretary that was involved in this matter. In other words, it was likely that the permanent secretary did not work alone in this criminality. All the accomplices in the crime, which may include some staff of the banks involved must be investigated to determine their role in the crime.

Let all those found culpable in this matter be made to face the full weight of the laws of the land. Since the pension fund has become another goldmine for corruption, government should not hesitate to plug all loopholes that lead to these illegal withdrawals.

It will be recalled that more sordid tales have emerged from the Senate Joint Committee on the Investigation into the Administration of the Pensions Scheme since it commenced sitting some weeks ago. The nation has been fed with gory details of how government officials falsified documents to siphon pensioners' money.

Already, the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT) has intimated the public of how it recovered a whopping sum of N151.6 billion and others after conducting a biometric verification exercise on pensioners since 2010.

Since this revelation, more frauds have been unearthed in other pension schemes, especially that of the police.

The situation is really getting out of hand. Therefore, something urgent should be done to stem the tide of malfeasance in the various pension schemes before the sleaze becomes fully entrench in the system.