The recent discovery of a pensioner receiving double pensions on the payroll of the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) is an indication that the war on pension fraud in Nigeria is far from over.
Details sourced from PTAD indicated that the Directorate discovered that the pensioner, identified as Mr. Nyong Effiong Major, was allegedly receiving pension from two points- the Parastatals Pension Department (PaPD) and Civil Service Pension Department (CSPD).
The agency, responsible for Defined Benefits Scheme (DBS), quickly removed the pensioner from the payroll and opened an investigation into the case.
A report on the activities of the Directorate for the month of October, 2018, seen by Daily Trust showed that the Directorate received and documented 12 pension scamming cases during the period under review.
“A few came through PSSD, others came through the PTAD fraud line, while some of the fraud victims came in person to lay their complaints,” the agency reported.
Daily Trust also learnt that three soft targets have been arrested and detained on alleged pension scams.
The details of the persons arrested are sketchy but there are indications that one of the alleged fraudsters fronted as a former NYSC staff who served at the agency.
On the development, PTAD stated in its report that, “The investigation is still ongoing as he has confirmed he never worked at NYSC (PAPD).”
However, PTAD said it has continued the follow- up on fraud investigations to apprehend a number of suspected pension phone scammers by working with ICPC, EFCC, and the FCT Command Criminal Investigation Department.
PTAD said it had written follow up letters to the EFCC and ICPC availing them with updated lists of phone scammers and their numbers.
The Directorate also revealed that it had written letters to EFCC, ICPC and Police requesting for them to nominate officers who will be part of the upcoming Parastatals verification exercise.
Sources within PTAD also told Daily Trust that the senior staff of PTAD recently underwent profiling at Department of State Services, a development the Executive Secretary, Sharon Ikeazor, recently confirmed in an interview.
However, she said the profiling was not aimed at intimidating the senior employees as she also underwent hers as part of the requirements for holding senior responsibility in government.
A visit to the Directorate’s official website would show the intensity with which PTAD is waging the war against pension fraud.
Visitors to the website are greeted with a fraud alert message before they can long into the main site.
However, PTAD is even going farther to sensitise pensioners, who are usually the victims of these frauds.
A statement from the Directorate stated that it has embarked on sensitisation of pensioners and NoKS on the activities of fraudsters who now target pensioners to defraud them of their hard earned pensions by texting or calling them, soliciting for money to facilitate their pension payments.
The statement stated that the Executive Secretary, Sharon Ikeazor, said that PTAD staff would never demand for money from any pensioner or next of kin before their pensions are processed and paid.
She said there are no intermediaries in the pension payments, Pensioners are paid directly through GIFMIS platform into individual pensioner’s account.
She advised Pensioners to be aware of fraudsters who sometime posed as PTAD staff to defraud them.
She said the Directorate embarked on the awareness campaigns to proactively protect the pensioners and to expose pranks employed by the fraudsters to swindle uninformed pensioners.
Meanwhile, the Directorate has said that the benefits of 109 Next of Kins (NoKs) of deceased pensioners of New Nigeria Newspaper (NNN) were being computed.
A separate statement released by the Directorate indicated that this came to the fore when PTAD received the management team of NNN led by its Acting Managing Director, Maruf Ibrahim, on a visit.
The statement stated that after the computation, the NoKs would be paid their benefits once the funds are released.
PTAD had in October placed 470 NNN pensioners on monthly pension payment for life.
On outstanding pension obligations, PTAD assured the delegation that government would soon set up an Inter-Ministerial Committee to look into and dispense with the issue of pension arrears that have accumulated over the years.
“The Directorate advised those who have not received their payments to contact their bankers while PTAD re-present the 23 failed payments which is largely due to pensioners’ inactive accounts,” the statement stated.
Commending PTAD for the timely intervention of the Directorate in placing NNN pensioners on monthly pension, the visiting NNN management expresses satisfaction with the speed at which PTAD was able to resolve, compute and pay their pensioners.