*Begins electronic verification of pensioners
*Naval Chief says scheme will eliminate ghost workers

Kingsley Nwezeh

In a bid to prevent a repeat occurrence of the security breach at the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), the military has deployed soldiers around the Military Pensions Board (MPB) in Abuja.

The military high command had since the incident beefed up security and enhanced troop deployment around barracks and other military establishments across the country.

The board had also concluded arrangements to commence electronic verification of military pensioners across the country.

Speaking in Abuja, Chairman of the Military Pensions Board, Navy Commodore Sabiru Lawal, said the deployment was occasioned by the isolated position of the board and its vulnerability to security breaches.

Speaking at the commissioning of completed infrastructure projects embarked upon by the board, Lawal said the board had taken measures to prevent a breach of security in the complex located in Dutse-Alhaji, in the outskirts of Abuja.

“May I inform that in view of the state of insecurity across the country, the general security of the MPB has been a major concern to me since my assumption of office, considering the possible vulnerability of the board to security breaches as a result of its isolated location.

“Consequently, I embarked on measures to fortify the security architecture of the board. We have put in place six observation posts within the board’s premises that are manned 24 hours and seven days in a week. In addition, a section of 12 armed soldiers are on standby daily apart from those deployed at duty posts to confront any security breach within the MPB and its environs”, he said.

In addition, he said, the board constructed a new ultra-modern main entrance gate with an asphalted access road.

“The main entrance gate has two additional observation posts for security checks, a reception hall and a visitors’ waiting room”, he said.

On electronic verification of pensioners, Lawal affirmed that the exercise would commence before the end year.

“Permit me to quickly acquaint you with our achievements with regards to the board’s core mandate. It is on record that since my assumption of duty in September last year, our esteemed pensioners have received their monthly pensions before the end of each month.

“Similarly, gratuities of all retirees who retire from service as at July 2021 and whose retirement documents have been received at the board have been paid. We have also ensured payments of death benefits to Next of kins (NOKs) of deceased personnel who have been recommended by the services and cleared as genuine NOK by the MPB NOK Committee”, he said.

He maintained that “all retirees are presently being paid in accordance with the new pension chart wef May 21 as approved by the federal government. Furthermore, the board has concluded plans to transmute from the hitherto manual verification of all military pensioners to a more secured and user-friendly electronic verification. “Hopefully, before the end of this year, barring any unforeseen circumstances, electronic verification exercise of military pensioners would commence after obtaining approval from appropriate superior authorities”.

On infrastructure development, he stated that his decision to build additional accommodation blocks for officers and non-commissioned officers of the board to enhance productivity and efficiency.

“We are going to witness the commissioning of two blocks of 8 x one bedroom transit apartment for officers and 5 blocks of 16 x One self-contained rooms for non-commissioned officers.

In his remarks, Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, who was the special guest of honour, said that the plan by the MPB to embark on electronic verification of military pensioners to replace the manual system was a laudable initiative.

“It is envisaged that the electronic verification of military pensioners would resolve the challenges experienced in the existing manual system. Specifically, it would lead to substantial financial savings to the federal government through progressive elimination of ghost or deceased pensioners while also eliminating the stress the senior citizens endure during manual verification exercises”, he said.

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