Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Compel FG to pay us N121billion benefits, pensioners tell court

Yetunde Ayobami Ojo 
The claimants, pensioners who retired at various times between 1981 and 2002 from the Federal Civil Service in one capacity or the other gave their respective power of attorney to first claimant, Mr. Gabriel O. Obahiagbon.

For allegedly deducting N121 billion from their wages, 29 pensioners have asked the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NIC), Lagos to order the federal government and seven others to pay them their benefits. The claimants, pensioners who retired at various times between 1981 and 2002 from the Federal Civil Service in one capacity or the other gave their respective power of attorney to first claimant, Mr. Gabriel O. Obahiagbon.
They filed the suit against the President of Federal Republic of Nigeria, Minister of Finance, Minister of Establishments and Management Service, the Head of Service of the Federation, the Accountant General of the Federation, the Director-General, National Pension Commission, Pension Transitional Arrangement Department Federal Civil service and Attorney-General and Minister for Justice of the Federation as first to eight defendants respectively.
However, Obahiagbon in his testimony before Justice Kanyip, told court that when he and others were in service, there were several undeclared amounts held back from their negotiated wages by the defendants and lodged in Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) for pension payment in future.
Led- in- evidence by the claimants counsel, Mr Adekunle Oyesanya (SAN), Obahigbon said:” Due to the arrangement whereby part of our wages were held back, the pension scheme was dubbed ‘non-contributory’ such that the salary structure published from time to time reflected only the Take Home Pay (THP) of the affected civil servant without revealing their contribution and Federal Governments Contribution.
“This practice continued until the promulgation of the Pension Reform Act in 2004 when a new scheme was introduced for those still in service while my group of pensioners and I who retired well before 2004 and who were in the non contributory pension scheme continue to labour under the old pension regime.”
He therefore tendered claimant written statement on oath deposed to by Obahiagbon dated March 11,2016 and was admitted as exhibit.Also, in their statement of claim, they want, “an order that the aborted investment income on the failed investment on the capital base of each of the claimants, as particularised be paid to them with the accruing interest at the rate of 20 percent per annum from date of filling till judgment and thereafter at 10 percent per annum pending final liquidation.
They also want general, exemplary and aggravated damages in the sum of N1billion for the defendants willful failure, neglect and or refusal to pay the claimants their respective pensions at and when due and for failure to perform their functions and duties as regards pension matters under various law regulating pensions in Nigeria thus causing untold hardship and suffering to him and others.
However, he was cross examined by the counsel to the 1 and 8 defendants, Mr Eloka J. Okoye, 7th defendant counsel, Mr Nenfort Amos and 6th defendant counsel, Mr Anene A. Maduechesi. Hearing continues June 30.


Thursday, 15 June 2017

Woman keeps mother's dead body in freezer for ten years so she can claim her £1,700-a-month pension

The corpse of a 90-year-old woman was found in the switched off appliance at the end of her daughter's garden after detectives began probing alleged social security fraud
Police have evidence that the suspect had put her own picture on her mother’s driving licence
A woman kept her dead mother hidden in a freezer for ten years so she could continue to claim an old age pension equivalent to £1700-a-month, prosecutors revealed today.
The 90-year-old' corpse was found after detectives started investigating the alleged social security fraudster, who is 55 and cannot be named for legal reasons.
She was living in a detached house in the picturesque village of Horsarrieu, close to Pau, in South West France, with her mother’s remains at the end of the garden.
‘They were hidden in a freezer, and there had been no report of the mother’s death,’ said a prosecuting source in nearby Mont-de-Marsan, capital of the Landes department.
Chest Freezer
The freezer was found at the end of the garden of the woman's property
‘The freezer was not connected to the electricity supply going into the house. It was just a hiding place,’ the source added.
The suspect was first interviewed by gendarmes on Tuesday, and claimed that her mother had died seven years ago.
Investigators noticed, however, that there had been no medical fees claimed by the mother since 2007, suggesting that the time of death was more likely to be a decade ago.
All the mother’s benefits arrangements, including drawing an old age pension, continued as normal throughout that time.
At the time of death, the pair were living some 200 miles away, close to Toulouse, which means that the woman would have transported the corpse in secret when they moved to Horsarrieu in July 2016.
Police have evidence that the suspect had put her own picture on her mother’s driving licence – an offence that led to a search of the property. The corpse was found wrapped in a tarpaulin, with old clothes used to hide it.
An autopsy was due to be held on Wednesday to try to establish whether the mother had died of natural causes, or whether foul play was involved.

Culled from Mirror pension

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

How the general election result will affect your holiday spending money and the value of your pension

Economists have forecast just what might happen to the value of the pound and stock markets, depending on which party clinches victory
The cost of your summer break abroad could be impacted by the election result
The outcome of the general election could impact everything from your pension to your holiday spending money this summer.
The City is poised to react to the outcome, with many traders working through the night as the results come in.
The earliest reaction will come from the value of the pound against other currencies.
The election result could mean Brits have more, or less, to spend this summer abroad
Sterling has already tumbled from $1.50 against the dollar before last June's Brexit vote.
It's now around $1.29 but is likely to rise - or fall - depending on the outcome of the election.
Sterling jumped 1.5% immediately after the Tories won the election in 1992, and by 2% in 2015.
Economist Samuel Tombs reckons a Conservative landslide victory this time around will see sterling edge past $1.30.
The small increase, especially if the pound strengthens against the euro too, will boost the spending money of Brits holidaying abroad.
That would come as a timely relief for millions preparing for their sunshine breaks.
The weak pound since last year has pushed up the cost of a beer in the sun and meals overseas.
It would also, the longer the pound keeps rising, begin the soften the blow of higher import prices.
Sterling's weakness has pushed up the cost of goods we buy from abroad - one big reason inflation has jumped to 2.7%.
But not everyone is unhappy about the pound's plunge.
UK companies selling their goods overseas have been given a boost, as it makes their products cheaper. A stronger pound will have the opposite affect.
A big Tory majority could trigger a rise in the pound but a small victory could lead to a fall
Economists are divided on how the pound will react to other election outcomes.
Mr Tombs, from Pantheon Macroeconomics, thinks a minority Tory government would “hit sterling hardest.”
He reckons a surprise Labour victory would boost sterling “due to the party’s softer Brexit stance.”
He said: "We think that sterling would jump to $1.32 overnight and that it would appreciate further over the following months as a soft Brexit became the most likely outcome."
A Labour coalition led by Jeremy Corbyn could see sterling rise
The chance of a Labour-led coalition could also result in the pound rising, he said.
Others are less sure.
Tom Stevenson, investment director for personal investing at Fidelity International, thinks the pound would fall after a Labour victory.
This could lead to an initial jump in the FTSE 100.
But Mr Stevenson cautioned: “The implementation of the most radically socialist agenda since Michael Foot’s 1983 ‘suicide note’ would explicitly target corporate earnings and is likely to lead to a severe market correction.”
He added: “The key to understanding the impact of the election will be the pound.”
Share price fluctuations have a impact on pension funds on which millions of people depend
All eyes will also be on how stock markets react.
The FTSE 100 has risen more than 350 points since April 18th, when Theresa May announced the snap election.
That is equivalent to £90billion being added to the value of the 100 companies on it.
The increase has been largely driven by the fall in the pound since last June’s Brexit vote, plus events abroad.
In contrast, polls for the election seems to have had little impact.
Laith Khalaf, a senior analyst at broker Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “It’s probably that the markets are deciding not to trust the polls any more.
“It is also a reflection that the markets expected the status quo - a Tory government - to remain, although you can quibble about the strength of that.”
However, Mr Khalaf reckons a Labour victory - or a hung parliament - would not result in stock markets tumbling.
“I think you would see a market reaction that would be negative, with share prices in UK focused companies falling the most,” he said.
“But I think a lot of that will be offset by a fall in the pound which, in turn, will put upward pressure on the shares of companies with big overseas earnings.”

Mirror Pension

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

The tragic failure of pensions system -Patrick Dele Cole

There is a big hole in the Pension Fund, and now the government has relaxed rules for the use of Pension Funds. Should BVN not be sufficient? Many pensioners have committed suicide; even so, pensioners still do not receive their money.
The administration of pensions in Nigeria is a national disgrace. Ever so often the pension administrators insist on a verification. All Nigerians know someone who has not been paid his or her pensions for years – some for over 10 years, despite repeated verifications. It is common to see very old, infirm sick people carried for verification in the hot sun, waiting for hours, without food or drink. These people are carried daily to these exercises, many faint, others get more infirm.
The centres are usually in the cities when most pensioners have retired to their villages. A former Director of Ministry of Agriculture has not been paid his pension for over 10 years. Yet we have multiple biometric identification systems – GSM, voter’s registration, Bank Verification Number (BVN), Driving Licence biometrics, National Identity Cards, etc. There are many permanent secretaries, ambassadors, clerks, nurses, teachers, local government employees, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) retirees, Airways staffs, Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) retired officials, Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) workers, etc. who have not been paid their pensions. It would seem that many of these people would never receive their pensions. We ought to be able to capture everybody under some identity system and pensions paid to them through their bank verification numbers without the necessity of this soul destroying verification. The truth may be that the pension purse has been compromised and money diverted by various authorities who use the verification to escape their responsibilities. Some of the evidence that the verification officials ask for one simply ridiculous – original letters of employment, evidence of end of service and so on. I have no doubt that apart from the large-scale theft of these funds by various entities, including the Unions, the Pension burden is simply too large to be borne. But this should not stop collating the evidence through an amalgamation of our entire databases and for the government and companies to meet their pension obligation. Need for coordination of National or State Policy on Pensions cannot be over-emphasized.
There are historical problems with Nigerian Pensions. Electricity Corporation of Nigeria (ECN), which became Nigeria Electricity and Power Authority (NEPA), Nigeria Coal Corporation, Nigerian Railways, Nigeria Airways and so on, still have pensioners who have not been paid for a long time. We must find answers to pay these pensioners because it is unethical for pensioners not to be paid.
The verification powers and system are unfair: people are too old to be carted all over for a hopeless exercise when all knows that the money will never reach the pensioners. This is ethically unjustifiable.
There is a big hole in the Pension Fund, and now the government has relaxed rules for the use of Pension Funds. Should BVN not be sufficient? Many pensioners have committed suicide; even so, pensioners still do not receive their money.
Two years ago, a director of pension in the old system raided the funds and took several billion naira but nothing happened. He took billions but was only fined N750, 000! This is intolerable.
Compare the above to what happened in the United Kingdom (UK) when Philip Green who had raided the Pension Fund by £353 million pounds. He had to refund all that money for British Home Stores pensioners, who worked for him as owner of British Home Stores.
The Daily Mirror Pension fund was similarly raided by Robert Maxwell. He was found dead on his yacht. Why is it that a simple problem like prompt and proper payment of pension should be so complicated?
Flour Mills still owe the Seamen Union over 50 per cent of their pension rights. One part of NNPC – PEF – boast of most modern payment scheme, having staff at every important juncture of the white spirits system – yet they do not have a comparable system in pension administration. The rest are as bad as or worse than NNPC. In the military or civil service – large pensions provisions have disappeared when funded; other pension funds had not been funded at all. Now governors, members of the National and State Assemblies want pensions. Governors have voted pensions for themselves, through the Houses of Assembly they control, the most generous if not scandalous pension packet – they go with all benefits they had as governors, same salary and staff accompaniment, houses built for them at government expenses in Abuja, their hometown and/or in the state capitals in which they served. This is a scandal that the governing systems must stop.
A major uncertainty and fear exist that the problem of pensions will eventually turn up to be a big black hole – so chaotic is its present lack of direction, effectiveness and compliance. A very large sum of money is collected monthly from workers and intended to go to pension funds and managers. But the record-keeping is pretty poor, disbursement chaotic and investment of pensions funds by the managers questionable and irresponsible. For example, what happens to a pension manager who has recklessly invested funds or put them in ventures which are self-serving? Then there is the problem of the yet unsolved historical pension claims of civil servants, workers in parastatals and even in private industry? The management of the National Provident Fund was opaque and its coffers had countless leakages.
Nigeria is not the only country with pensioners. Others have solved these problems by better accountability; better verification methods. For example, pensions and other related benefits are paid in the United Kingdom mainly through the post office. If we had post offices in Nigeria, they are in a sorry state of decay and thousands have closed shops. Perhaps reviving the post offices which served as payment centres for a variety of purposes may be an answer instead of the Communications Minister closing the post offices and talking about ICT Universities and commercial development of post office sites for businesses unrelated to the core job of making communication available as they used to be before throughout the country through post offices. Countries that we blindly ape in the new digital universe still have the two essential services as the key to their communications – landlines telephone and postal services everywhere in their countries. We used to send money everywhere in Nigeria through money orders and letters from post offices. We should be able to pay our pensioners if our post offices were working.


Friday, 9 June 2017

ome / Cover / National / 38 years after, ABS, ASPC pensioners get N700m

38 years after, ABS, ASPC pensioners get N700m

Obinna Odogwu, Ekwulobia
  Anambra State government has mapped out N700 million to offset the accumulated pension and gratuity for the two state media parastatals: Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS) and the Anambra State Printing Cooperation, publishers of National Light.
Commissioner for Information and Communication Strategy, Ogbuefi Tony Nnacheta,disclosed this during a press briefing held at the Situation Room of the Information Ministry, Udorji Secretariat, Awka.
He said the gesture was in line with Governor Willie Obiano’s policy to carter for the welfare of the people and reduce their pains, especially in the current economic situation.
Nnacheta regretted that National Light Newspapers and ABS had suffered severely without pension and gratuities for more than 38 years with the retirees strength of 158 and 227, respectively, making a total of 385.
The commissioner said the payment would commence by end of June, 2017, through May 2018, promising to continue to ensure adequate sustainability.
He stated that the state government had assured to pay all accumulated debt owed pensioners and further provide them with adequate logistics to thrive


Thursday, 8 June 2017

Police foil new terror plot as they arrest three people planning attack

Police foil new terror plot as they arrest three people planning attack
Armed police carried out raids in east London this morning (Picture: Getty Images)
Police have arrested three people on terror charges, but they have said they are not linked to the London Bridge attack.
Two men, aged 34 and 37, were taken into custody at separate addresses in Newham, east London, while a third, aged 33, was arrested in Waltham Forest.

All three were detained on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of terrorism offences and have been taken for questioning at a south London police station.
They were taken into custody by detectives from the Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command with support from armed police officers.
The operation took place overnight and searches are ongoing at the properties, the force said.
Met Police said: ‘All three were arrested on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of terrorism offences under section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000.
‘They have been taken into custody at a south London police station and are detained under the Terrorism Act.’
‘Searches at the addresses are ongoing.’
In a separate investigation, counter-terror police made a series of arrests in Ilford, east London, on Wednesday night in connection with the London Bridge atrocity.
Eight people were killed and dozens injured when three men launched a van and knife rampage on Saturday night.
All three attackers were shot dead by police.

Culled from Metro

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Millions of couples missing out on important tax breaks for this one reason - and over 65s are the worst hit

Over 300,000 people aged over 65 are now living together unmarried in the UK - but in the eyes of the law, you can't reap the tax free perks unless you get hitched
Experts say we're stuck in a 1940s system
A "dramatic" increase in the number of older cohabiting couples could lead to more people missing out on valuable tax breaks and state pension rights, analysis by an insurer suggests.
Royal London found that despite a growing trend of over-65s living with a partner as an unmarried couple, perhaps after previously being widowed or divorced, many tax and benefits rules still treat cohabiting couples as "second class citizens".
While the rate of cohabitation generally has risen by around one third since the turn of the century, the rate among those over state pension age has trebled, according to Royal London.
Senior Couple Saving Money In Jar
Figues show a rise in the number of over 65s that are living together unmarried
It said that over 300,000 people aged over 65 are now living together as part of an unmarried couple across England and Wales.
Royal London's analysis of Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures for England and Wales covering the period 2002 to 2015 found the proportion of adults who were cohabiting rose by about one third over the period from 7.5% to 10%.
The proportion of people over state pension age who were cohabiting trebled over the same period. The rate for those aged 65 to 69 rose from 1.5% to 4.5%, and the rate for those aged 70 and over rose from 0.7% to 2.3%.

Rising numbers of couples cohabiting

20022015024681012Rise (%)
Source: Royal London

'Tax breaks apply only to married couples'

Newlyweds embracing at marriage ceremony
In the eyes of the law, most tax advantages only apply to legally married couples
Royal London personal finance specialist, Helen Morrissey, said: "With each passing year more and more people are choosing to live together as couples, and it is amongst those over pension age where the growth has been the most dramatic.
"But individuals need to be aware that there are many tax breaks and state pension advantages which apply only to married couples.
"For example, the family of a cohabiting couple could face an extra £70,000 inheritance tax bill compared with the heirs of a married couple.
"Similarly, cohabiting couples are excluded from income tax breaks worth hundreds of pounds a year and from the rights to inherit a state pension when one partner dies."
She said there should be a review of whether the tax and benefit system needs to be updated "to reflect the world in which we now live, not the world of the 1940s".
Royal London said the system is still largely based around people who are either single and living alone or living as a married couple.
It said that, for example, married couples enjoy significant inheritance tax benefits over their cohabiting counterparts.
They can pass wealth to their surviving spouse free of inheritance tax and they can also transfer any unused portion of their inheritance tax threshold to their spouse - but neither of these options is available to cohabiting couples.
Married couples also have advantages when it comes to income tax, with some special tax allowances for married couples only .
Meanwhile, many current pensioners reached state pension age before the new state pension was introduced in 2016.
They will be covered by the old state pension system, under which there were certain rights to an improved state pension following the death of a spouse, which do not apply to cohabiting couples.
Under this system, an older married woman could see her state pension boosted by around £2,500 per year following the death of her husband, but a cohabiting partner would miss out, Royal London said.

Mirror pension