House of Reps probes PENCOM

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…As CBN takes delivery of INEC election materials***

The House of Representatives has started investigations into the activities of the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) from April 2017 to date.

This followed alleged violation of the Act establishing the commission.

The investigation began on Thursday in Abuja with a public hearing organised by an adhoc committee of the House.

The Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, speaking at the public hearing said the House was concerned about the activities of every parastatal.

Represented by Munir Danagundi (APC-Kano), Mr Dogara said that as representatives of the people, the House would always ensure accountability and transparency.

“The House comprise of 360 members, everybody is concerned to see that things are done according to due process and in accordance with the law of the land.

“When this motion was brought to the floor of the House, everybody was concerned because of the magnitude of the asset of this agency, which is over N8.9 trillion, an equivalent of the national budget.

“It is the concern of every member and citizen of the country to see that the right thing is done so that nothing happens to our pension funds,” he said.

Mr Dogara solicited the cooperation of all stakeholders to ensure things are done in accordance with the laws of the land.

Earlier, the Chairman of the ad hoc committee, Johnson Agbonayinmam (APC-Edo), said the committee was constituted on December 12, 2018.

He said that the committee’s mandate was to investigate the activities of PECOM from April 2017 to date.

The lawmaker said that the public hearing was to enable the committee get information from stakeholders, consider them and make accurate recommendations to the House.

He said the instrument of the legislature must consciously be upheld to promote good governance.

Mr Agbonayinmam said the importance of pension “cannot be overemphasised’’ as hitches surrounding retirement had imposed many challenges on workers over time.

He said most workers do not know how to save money for retirement, which necessitated the Federal Government to design a savings scheme to clear the fears of workers ahead of their retirement.

According to him, some retired workers still suffer setbacks in accessing their pension but the government will not relent until all infractions are fixed.

Mr Agbonayinmam said it was expected that the scheme would satisfy all expectations with efficiency and transparency.

The chairman urged all stakeholders to avail the committee all relevant documents and information to carry out the investigation.

In the meantime, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has started taking delivery of sensitive materials for the conduct of the forthcoming general elections.

Mr Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education, made this known while updating newsmen on the preparations of the commission for the elections on Wednesday in Abuja.

Okoye said that the commission was ready to conduct credible free, fair and credible elections .

He said that the CBN in various states had started receiving sensitive materials including ballot papers and result sheets.

He also disclosed that the commission had already taken delivery of non-sensitive materials including voting cubicles, ballot boxes and writing materials at its Local Government offices across the country.

“For now, the commission is engaged in `readiness assurance’ for the elections that will take place on Feb. 16 and March 2.

“The different zonal stores and states and local government offices of the commission are presently taking delivery of non-sensitive materials for the conduct of the 2019 elections.

“The CBN, on the other hand, is taking delivery of sensitive materials for the conduct of the elections,” he said.

Okoye said that the commission was also beefing up security arrangements around its offices to secure the election materials.

He also added that most Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) had concluded the training of various categories  of ad hoc staff and were putting finishing touches to the other processes.

The national commissioner speaking on the recent fire disaster that destroyed the INEC office including some Permanent Voter Cards in Isiala-Ngwa South Local Government Area, Abia, said that the act should be condemned by all Nigerians.

“We see the attack as an act to create fear into the minds of some of officers that we will use to conduct elections.

“We are not going to be intimidated by such attacks; rather we will continue to do the right thing.

“So, those who went and burn our local government office will not have achieved anything because we it will continue to follow due process as we conduct the 2019 general elections.

He reiterated that INEC would not allow collection of PVCs by proxy, adding that any individual found distributing PVCs in proxy would be arrested and prosecuted.

Okoye advised journalists covering the forthcoming elections to keep abreast with constitutional and legal issues in the conduct of elections as well report professionally and objectively.

“Always be guided by the need to uphold the basic tenets of good reporting.

“You must always be guided by the need to report objectively bearing in mind that a divided or a prejudiced press not only portends danger to our democracy and electoral process, but also to the cooperate well being of Nigeria.’’

Okoye said that on the part of INEC, the commission would continue to be open and transparent in the management of information relating to the forthcoming elections.

Additional report from The Citizen