Human rights and pro-democracy group, Take It Back Movement (TIB), Delta State chapter has lambasted the governor of the state, Ifeanyi Okowa over his failure to pay retirees their entitlements.
The group alleged that the retirees have been subjected to all sorts of indignities under the Okowa administration.
It gave the governor a 21-day ultimatum to offset the pensioners’ long overdue gratuities or it would “take lawful means including peaceful protest to ensure that justice is done in this case.”
The group’s position is contained in a statement signed by the State Coordinator, Comrade Ighorhiohwunu Aghogho.
The statement read, “We are a Pro-democracy and human rights group mandated by chapter IV of the 1999 constitution to act in the interest of citizens in Nigeria.
“We have read from the media with utmost displeasure that the Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa was on Thursday smuggled out of the state empowerment programme by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) and other security details attached to the governor following a protest by the state retirees who blocked the entrance of the event centre in Asaba over what we can now describe as ‘unfriendly treatment’ by the Delta State Government towards retirees in the state.
“We learnt that one of the retirees known as Mr. Alfred Esiphri slumped during the said protest and other retirees who were teachers from primary schools and local government workers, dressed in black attire, barricaded the entrance to the event centre along Okpanam Road Asaba, chanting and singing anti-government songs.
“We have also reliably gathered that in order to resolve this matter amicably, the leadership of the state retirees group known as ‘Concern Delta State Local Government/Primary School Teachers Contributory Retirees’ led by the chairman, Mode A.O. had made frantic efforts in the past to interface with Governor Okowa but all proved abortive.
“The crux of the matter is that, as of November 2020, the government was owing the retirees over N51 billion accrued right (value of service before we entered into the contributory savings in 2011).
“The sum is increasing daily and had increased to N55,463,940,912 as at October 2021. There is an unremitted deduction of the sum of N5.9 billion to the Bureau of local government pension by ALGON during the era of nonpayment of salaries between 2015 and 2017.
“These retirees are crying foul, alleged to have been humiliated, short-changed and the governor turning a blind eye, deaf ears to their sufferings and with several pleas, appeal even through prominent Deltans have not yielded desired results.
“We are by this press statement putting the Delta State Government on notice of our intention to stand shoulder to shoulder with the leadership of the group known as ‘Concern Delta State Local Government/Primary School Teachers Contributory Retirees’ and at the expiration of 21days from today and if the subject matter is not addressed amicably, we will take all lawful means including peaceful protest to ensure that justice is done in this case.”