Group urges Buhari to probe PENCOM over alleged fraudulent practices

The Centre for Public Accountability,CPA, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to order an immediate investigation into an allegation of sundry fraudulent practices in the National Pensions Commission, PENCOM.

In a petition addressed to the president and signed by its Executive Director, Comrade Olufemi Lawson, the group stated that the petition is to bring to the president’s attention the long list of infractions, mismanagement and maladministration that is ongoing at the commission under the leadership of Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu.

A copy of CPA’s petition, which was made available to DAILY POST on Monday, reads: “Mr. President, as you may be aware, the Pension Reform Act was enacted in 2004 for sustainable management of retirement benefits of citizens who worked within the public or private sectors of the federation. As at today, the accumulated pension assets stand at about N5.4 trillion. From that period to date, we want to assert that the commission has never been in the worst state than it is today.

“We affirm that the commission is bedeviled with multiple infractions, violations of the law and widespread corruption that warrant immediate and urgent attention of Mr. President.”

Raising its first issue on the annual collection, CPA alleged that the Commission is mismanaging the 0.3 per cent annual fees on pension assets, thereby calling for a thorough investigation into it.

“The commission collects annually, 0.3 per cent on the total pension assets which presently stands at N5.4 trillion. Annually the commission collects about N15billion as fees which it spends without any accountability.

“We challenge the commission to publish how it has expended that annual fund which is regarded as slush fund by insiders. As at December 2015, the current Director General of PENCOM has collected N42 billion which she cannot account for till date.

“We specifically call on the President to order an immediate investigation into how the N42 billion fees collected by the commission was expended from 2012 to date.”

The Center similarly alleged that the Commission’s DG is involved in illegal application of regulatory powers, stating that there are obvious cases of harassment and selfish tendencies in the leadership of the commission.

“In addition to not implementing statutory provision as above, records showed that the commission under the current Director General has deployed regulatory powers of the commission for selfish, illegal and family usage. Pension administrators and custodians are harassed and subjected to unholy surcharges including share takeover among others.

“Currently, the families of commission Director Generals are the owners of Premium Pension. May we also inform you, that the commission also took over First Guarantee Pension under flimsy excuses and has refused to obey court orders directing a return of the firm to the owners. For more than five years, the commission held on to the firm and is scheming to sell it to interest known to be close to its Director General.”

While describing the annual World Pension being hosted by PENCOM as a wasteful expenditure, the Centre said the country is set to waste almost a million naira for a jamboree like event at a time the country is in recession.

“Annually, the commission plays host to the World Pension Summit, a body owned by two brothers from the United States. The commission forced pension administrators and custodians to pay participation fees while the commission itself spends almost a billion naira annually to host the annual event. The 2016 edition of that event is scheduled to hold by September 27 to 28 in Transcorp Hilton Abuja.

“In this era of recession, this is not just wasteful but corruption laden and out of tune with the spirit of the era. We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Director General to stop the summit forthwith as Nigeria and pensioners can ill afford such wasteful and extravagant event meant to enrich a family alleged to be working on behalf of the commission management.”

The Centre also highlighted the non-implementation of transfer window by the Commission, stating that, “Nigerians deserve to know why depositors are not allowed to migrate if they so wish. We want to know why billions are spent without such migration being realized.”

Urging the president to urgently beam a searchlight on the activities of the commission, it said, “that sector needs urgent clean up if the world, pensioners and workers are to take the administration seriously.

Among other requests to the president, CPA said, “We also call for an immediate investigation into the activities of PENCOM, under its present leadership, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and the Independent Corruption Practices and other related offences related Commission, ICPC.”

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