Pensioners in Niger State on Monday blocked Government House and disrupted the swearing-in ceremony of the newly elected chairmen of local government councils.
The protesting retirees denied both elected LGA chairmen, the All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial candidate, Umar Mohammed Bago, and other invited guests from gaining access to the venue of the event in Government House.
It took several minutes for Bago to convince the protesters to leave despite heavy security presence with a pledge to prioritise their demands if elected.
The Chairman, Niger State Retirees Pressure Group, Mr Steve Daniel Zitta said they intended to stop Governor Abubakar Sani Bello and his deputy from holding the event.
He said the retirees were already discussing sponsoring a bill in the state House of Assembly to get the governor impeached for failure to pay retirees’ gratuity and pension since his assumption of office.
“This is the fourth time we are protesting this year alone. We blocked the Government House today because the previous protests we had, we did not see the governor. But today, we believed he would be around. Since I retired 12 years ago, I have not been paid. In fact, we are going to sponsor a personal bill in the state House of Assembly for his impeachment because he has violated sections of the constitution,” he said.
Niger State government in November released N1 billion for payment of gratuity out of N14 billion naira it owed retirees in the state.
The Director General, Niger State Pension Board, Nasiru Saidu Namaska said 14, 200 retirees were owed a total backlog of N14 billion for gratuity, N2 billion for death gratuity, N3 billion for monthly pension while N1.2 billion was for augmentation.
Efforts to get the Chief Press Secretary, Mary Noel-Berje, could not be fruitful as she did not respond to a message sent to her phone.