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Pension Reform bill, five others scale second reading  

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Chamber Senate
Senate in Session
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The Senate on Wednesday considered a bill seeking to bring respite to distressed Nigerian retirees.

The bill which passed second reading was tagged “Pension Reform Act 2014 (Amendment), 2022.”

The bill was sponsored by Senator Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko (Sokoto North).

Wamakko, while leading debate on the general principles of the bill, said the bill seeks to amend the Pension Reform Act 2014, to provide for a definite and reasonable percentage a retiree can withdraw from his/her retirement savings accounts.

According to him, the provisions of the bill seeks to also “provide for succor to retirees in the delay and other difficulties they stumble upon in withdrawing their savings from retirement savings account.”

He lamented that the inability of Nigerian pensioners to access their benefits after service had resulted in their suffering which, in most cases, led to eventual and untimely deaths.

“Mr. President, none of us can claim ignorance of the long-drawn-out anguish of retirees from the Civil Service, Nigerian Prison Service, Universities and Parastatals among other Federal Agencies in this country.

“These retirees rather than enjoy retirement after selflessly serving their fatherland, have continued to live in misery and pain, leading to diseases and even death, as they cannot easily access their benefits” he said.

The lawmaker explained that the Pension Reform Act 2004, amended as Pension Reform Act 2014, provides for a departure from the old pension scheme of Defined Benefits’, to the new Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) that established the National Pension Commission (Pen Com).

He noted that in spite of the amendments to the Pension Act, the legislation has failed to achieve its objective of solving the intractable pension crisis in the country.

“Suffice to say that the issue of pension Nigeria has more or less, turned a monster that has defied all efforts by successive governments to contain it.

“In view of the retirees protracted sufferings and pains who are equally Nigerians, continued search for a lasting panacea is a duty bound upon us and all others concerned.”

Wamakko explained that the Act in Section 7(1)(a) was amended in the bill to allow retirees withdraw 75 percent of their benefits.

He bemoaned the situation where pension administrators in the country benefit at the expense of Nigerian pensioners who continue to suffer neglect.

“These Nigerians who have retired from service after several years serving the nation are finding it extremely difficult to be the owners of their pension savings in this new arrangement.

“So, unless that law is made categorically clear that they can withdraw the 75 per cent which we are proposing in this amendment, then they can definitely have some relief as retirees.

“But Mr President, my dear colleagues, of what significance are all these huge assets and sums of money to the owners, the Nigerian pensioners who are dying daily of hunger, disease, and deprivation. I believe this is cruel and unjustifiably inhuman.

“You may recall that the DG Pencom proudly announced that as at 31st July, 2021, that they have an accumulated assets of N12.78 Trillion.

“So let the Nigerian pensioners feel the impact of the assets in the savings they have generated. But the true situation is that only the Pension Administrators a benefitting while the owners continue to suffer total neglect.”

The bill after scaling second reading was referred by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, to the Committee on Establishment and Public Service Matters.

The Committee was given four weeks to report back to the Senate.

In a related development, a total of five bills also passed second reading on Wednesday.

The bills include: a bill to establish the Federal University of Transportation, Daura; and a bill to amend the Companies and Allied Matters Act to strengthen Non- Governmental Organisations in Nigeria.

Others are a bill to establish the Federal University of Medicine and Medical Sciences Egbe, Kogi State; a bill to establish the Federal Medical Centre Ijebu Ode; and a bill to amend the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps Act 2010 to make for the mode of appointment of the Commandant-General of the Corps.

The bills were sponsored by Senators Abdulfatai Buhari (Oyo North), Yahaya Oloriegbe (Kwara Central), Smart Adeyemi (Kogi West), Mustapha Olalekan (Ogun East) and George Thompson Sekibo (Rivers East), respectively.

The Senate President referred the bill to establish the Federal University of Transport, Daura, to the Joint Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND; and Land Transport for further work.

He also referred the bill to amend the Companies and Allied Matters Act to the Joint Committee on Trade and Investment; and Diaspora.

On the other hand, the bills to establish the Federal University of Medicine and Medical Sciences Egbe, Kogi State, and Federal Medical Centre Ijebu Ode, were both referred to the Joint Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND; and Health (Secondary and Tertiary).

Also referred was the bill to amend the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, which was sent to the Committee on Interior for further legislative inputs.

The Senate President gave all the Committees four weeks to report back to the Senate.
 

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Buhari Pledge to Rescue Kaduna Train Attack Hostages

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President Muhammadu Buhari
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President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday assured to rescue 31 hostages taken in a train attack and return them “safe and unhurt”, his office said, five months after their abduction.

Gangs of bandits with no ideological or religious motives are known to kidnap for ransom in northwest and central Nigeria.

On March 28, armed men blew up a train travelling between Abuja and Kaduna and opened fire, killing eight people, wounding 26, and taking an unspecified number of passengers hostage.

A week later, they freed one hostage — a top bank executive — as a goodwill gesture for Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting, because of his “advanced age”.

Dozens of hostages have already been freed following negotiations, but 31 remain in the kidnappers den.

“I have been informed that at last count, there remain about 31 people in the hands of the kidnappers,” Buhari told representatives of the families of the hostages in Abuja on Thursday.

He said his government would ensure the safe return of the remaining hostages to their families.

“My primary concern is to get everyone released safe and unhurt,” he assured.
The president commended the security forces on recent successes against kidnappers and “terrorists”.

“In the past couple of days, you must have heard about the number of terrorists neutralised by the military, and a number of hostages freed. These efforts will not stop, or reduce,” he said.

“We must take the fight to the terrorists and demonstrate that there is no hiding place for them within the borders of our country,” he said.

“Each one of them will be hunted, and pursued and spoken to in the language that they understand,” he added.

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Five Guards Brigade Killed By Bandits Buried In Abuja

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Five Guards Brigade Killed By Bandits Buried In Abuja
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The Nigerian Army on Thursday buried five members of the Guards Brigade killed by bandits during a clearance operation in the Federal Capital Territory recently.

The soldiers were laid to rest at the Guards Brigade Cemetery, Maitama , Abuja, according to a statement by Guards Brigade spokesperson, Captain Godfrey Anebi Abakpa

Among the deceased was Captain Attah Samuel.

“Until their demise, the gallant soldiers were serving with 7 Guards Battalion, Lungi Barracks Maitama and 176 Guards Battalion Gwagwalada in the Federal Capital Territory Abuja respectively,” the statement said.

“While reading the funeral oration of the deceased officer and soldiers, the Commanding Officers of 7 Guards Battalion Lt Col Salim Yusuf Hassan and Commanding Officer 176 Guards Battalion, Lt Col Joshuah Kolowale Adisa described the late Captain and Soldiers as thoroughly bred Infantrymen who were genuinely committed to their duties in defence of Nigeria and whose contribution and services would be greatly missed.

“They asked God to console the families left behind stressing that while the Brigade and the Nigerian Army mourns, the families should take solace in the fact that they have fought a just fight and their souls shall continue to rest with the lord till the resurrection morning.

“Highpoint of the event was the presentation of accoutrements by the representative of the Chief of Army Staff, Maj Gen James Alilu Ataguba to the next of kins of the deceased personnel and lowering of the remains of the fallen heroes.

There was also the blowing of the last post and gun salute to bid the departed heroes fair well

“The burial process started with Christian wake keep and funeral service held in honour of the fallen heroes at St John’s Military Church (Protestant) before the final Internment at the Guards Brigade Cemetery Maitama Abuja.

“The solemn ceremony was witnessed by senior officers of the Nigerian Army, Commanding Officers, Staff Officers of the Brigade, Bwari Area Council Chairman, Hon John Gabaya as well as family members and the barracks community.”

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Two More ISWAP Terrorists Linked To Owo Church Attack Arrested – DHQ

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Chief of Defence Staff, General Leo Irabor
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Two more Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists linked to the attack on St Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo state, have been arrested.

Gunmen had on June 5 stormed the Catholic church, killing over 40 worshippers and injuring others.

The incident drew widespread condemnation, with President Muhammadu Buhari ordering security agencies to arrest the attackers.

On June 9, the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, blamed the attack on ISWAP, but the claim was countered by Ondo state Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu.

Just yesterday, the Chief of Defence Staff, Lucky Irabor, announced that the gunmen behind the attack on the church have been arrested.

But in a statement on Wednesday, the Director of Defence Information, Jimmy Akpor, said the two suspected ISWAP fighters were arrested through the collaborative effort of the military and the Department of State Services (DSS).

“Recall that the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, during his parley with media executives and editors yesterday, Tuesday 9 August 2022, informed of the arrest of 4 terrorists among those who carried out the attack on St Francis Catholic Church, Owo on 5 June 2022,” Akpor said.

“They were arrested through a combined operation by military and DSS personnel at Eika, Okehi LGA, Kogi State on 1 August 2022.

“Those arrested include Idris Abdulmalik Omeiza (a.k.a Bin Malik), Momoh Otohu Abubakar, Aliyu Yusuf Itopa and Auwal Ishaq Onimisi.

“Barely few hours after the disclosure by the CDS of the arrest of 4 of the Owo Catholic Church attackers, 2 additional ISWAP terrorists, who were also connected to the attack on the church were apprehended at Omialafara (Omulafa), Ose LGA, Ondo State yesterday, 9 August 2022.

“The arrests were made through the collaborative effort by military and DSS personnel. The suspects are Al-Qasim Idris and Abdulhaleem Idris.

“It is instructive to note that Abdulhaleem, alongside other high profile ISWAP commanders, had also previously coordinated attacks on military targets in Okene, Okene LGA, Kogi State resulting in casualties.”

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