About 800 fraudulent pension accounts have been closed following the introduction of the Bank Verification Number (BVN).
Besides, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) is investigating the mismanagement of close to N2biillion pension cash.
Acting Director General of the Pension Transitional Arrangement Department (PTAD) Mr. Murtala Oluwatoyin said at the weekend that the 800 accounts were spread across all the Deposit Money Banks. The case has been transferred to the ICPC for further investigation.
The PTAD boss said: “in one particular week, we closed about 800 different accounts in one day from various banks which we passed to ICPC for investigation. We have signed a memorandum of understanding with ICPC on pension fraud and they have promised to assist us unravel those behind the illegal accounts. It is an ongoing process however and there may be more discoveries. We have been using BVN to track multiple accounts. Many of such accounts are hurriedly being closed now because they realise we are after them.”
He said PTAD engaged ICPC because “the agency has no powers to ask the banks to provide the details of those operating the closed accounts, it decided to refer the matter to the ICPC for further investigation and because the ICPC has the powers to demand for the transaction details from the banks.”
Oluwatoyin also said the agency had successfully recovered about N2.4 billion belonging to PTAD from 18 agencies which had been transferred to the PTAD Treasury Single Account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Since he assumed office as the PTAD acting DG, a total of N1.58 billion he said, had been paid as death benefits to 891 beneficiaries and the agency has also completed the quality assurance exercise on 17,974 verified pensioners’ files.
When asked to speak on the alleged scandal that led to the suspension of his predecessor, Oluwatoyin said “we have already documented what happened and forwarded them to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). I told you that we had issues with data and record keeping and those are some of the things that she is being accused of. And these are issues for which contracts were awarded and never executed.
“These are some of the things we sent to EFCC. The question she should answer is whether those contracts were executed. Those are the issues but I do not want to dwell on them since we have handed them over to EFCC. We should just draw a line and move forward. That is why we have been quiet on our end. It is left for EFCC and herself to clear themselves” he said.
Oluwatoyin said he was “mindful of the image of PTAD as an organisation and do not want to run it down. We are trying to make the agency responsive and dignified and I should not be seen to be running down an organisation that I am heading. “We have already documented what happened and forwarded them to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
“I have been working with Department of State Security Service (DSS) and all the phone numbers that people give me I forward to DSS to track, but up till now, they have not been able to apprehend anybody. It is not easy to track people. “
On the activities of the agency so far, the PTAD Director General said “we pay about N16 billion pension monthly. It is a lot of money. The ongoing database clean up and payroll analysis has resulted in the removal of 5,700 names from the payroll, with regular and prompt monthly pension payments of 12 months of the outstanding 42 months of the 33 per cent pension arrears to all categories of pensioners except for the paramilitary pensioner who have received their full payment.”
He added that the agency “had to harvest from the savings made from others to be able to pay the three months. We explained this to Police Pension Union. Right now, we have requested for additional funds and once we get this, or by December if we are able to make more savings from the paramilitary, who we are not owing any arears, we will be able to divert that to pay police.
“When PTAD was established, we did not have records. We just took over the pay rolls that Mr. Abdurasheed Maina and others were using. It is now that we are cleaning the process with the records we have been able to generate. It is a tedious process trying to establish an authentic payroll.”