Gentlemen of the Press, it is my ardent wish to communicate to you, a corruption-like behavior going on in Nigerian Military Pension Board as regards nonpayment of the monthly pension of one of their soldiers who fought for the defence of this country from external aggressions facing the merciless and deadly riffles loaded with bullets of the enemies of this country while in active service.
Before proceeding, let me first and foremost express our profound appreciation to you for your support in publishing most of our press releases and conference speeches in the past. You have indeed shown that you are part of the struggle for the release of the masses from the hands of the oppressors.
L/Corporal Mathias Oni was enlisted into the Nigerian Army in the month of August 1969 with the enrolment no 63NA/283661 and was discharged voluntarily in December 1985. In other words, L/Corporal Mathias Oni has put in 16years, 301 (sixteen years, three hundred and one) days in service of this nation in the Nigerian Army.
After his retirement, his gratuity was paid and since then, has not been able to collect his monthly pension. As a result of his ill health and ‘yes sir’ attitude of the Military, he was unable to make any effort as regards the payment of his pension, until in February 2012 when he put up a letter to the chairman of the Military Pension Board (MPB) Dutshe Alhaji, Kubwa Abuja with the heading ‘ Application for Inclusion into Monthly Pension’. The letter was acknowledged but nothing positive came afterwards.
L/Corporal Oni Mathias later found his ways into the Civil Liberties Organization ‘s office , Sango Ota, Ogun State and reported this issue, but due to our belief in audi alteram patem (hearing from both parties), we also put up a letter to the Military Pension Board, Abuja , referring to the Previous letter forwarded by Oni Mathias . The letter written by our organization was dated 15th October, 2018 (i.e six years after the one written by the retired soldier – Oni Mathias)
In response to our letter, the board, through her Solicitor, A.T Negedu, a Flight Lieutenant, who signed on behalf of Chairman MPB wrote that L/Corporal Oni Mathias was enlisted in the Nigerian Army on 11th April, 1969 and was discharged voluntarily on 30th December, 1983 which by calculation amounts to 14years, 201 days (fourteen years, two hundred and one days) of active service (war bonus inclusive).
Negedu also added that the Armed forces pension decree of 1979 which was the substantive law at the time of the ex- soldier’s retirement qualification for pension was 15years in service. He concluded saying that in view of this, the ex- soldier falls within the categories of discharged soldiers who are not qualified for monthly pensions by the provision of the above mentioned law.
CLO was not in doubt of the above mentioned law but the fact is that the ex- soldier did not put in 14years 201 days in service as stated in the reply of the board, but put in 16years 301 days.
In our response to their letter, in our letter dated 11th January, 2019, we disputed the facts given by the board through the office of the Chairman and backed our claim with series of documentary evidences showing that L/Corporal Oni Mathias served for 16years 301 days as against their claim (without evidence) that he put in 14years 201 days. Documents attached to our letters include:
- Nigerian Army Certificate of service issued to him
- Total year of service according to the certificate of discharge
- Print out of verification exercise in October 19, 2015 where he was certified ‘Genuine Pensioner’ at the verification point in Lagos.
Gentlemen of the press, in the Nigerian Army certificate of service to the ex-soldier, it reflects on page 5 that his date of discharge was 13-12-85, stamped at the Army records office and signed by a Colonel on the 29th November, 2011.
In spite of all these documentary evidences, the board still turned deaf ears to our letter and after about 5 months , May 15 2019 to be précised, we forwarded another letter urging the board to act fast on our claims and if there’s any counter claim, with documentary evidence, we would appreciate seeing such, but if not, the long pending pension of L/Corporal Oni Mathias should be paid from August 1985 till date or else, our organization will not hesitate to organize a press conference to that effect and also invite the Economic and Financial crime Commission (EFCC) to investigate before instituting a legal action in court of competent jurisdiction.
Despite the above warnings, the Military Pension Board remained adamant and never responded in any form, hence the need to forward this press release.
However, we are at this juncture appealing to the Ministry of Defense and other concerned authorities to intervene in the ordeal of L/Corporal Oni Mathias with no Ex-63NA/283661 as the old man is languishing in poverty and falls sick from time to time as a result of financial challenges he encounters.
Thanks and God bless
Long live Nigeria Union of Journalists!
Long live Civil Liberties Organization!!
Long live Federal Republic of Nigeria!!!
Comrade Yemi Enitan Comrade Joseph Enitan