Paul Obiajunwo, Port Harcourt
Pensioners under Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) yesterday threatened to drag its National Chairman, Mr. Ayo Bimite to Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) over alleged illegal extortion of N2000 each for submission of Biometric Verification Number (BVN).
They said the Federal government through NPA requested for BVN to update their bank accounts and to flush out ghost pensioners but did not ask them to pay N2000 each for BVN form.
Some of the leaders of pensioners in the south-south, South East said they are joining 11, 000 NPA pensioners nationwide to protest the illegal extortion.
The Chairman, NPA Pensioners, Rivers State chapter, Mr. Chris Nnamene insisted that there was no time the Federal government or the management of NPA ask pensioners to pay N2000 before they could submit their BVN.
Nnamene said he is worried because many pensioners who could not afford the N2000 were forced to borrow, adding that if the 11,000 NPA pensioners nationwide all paid, the national chairman and his cronies would be smiling to the bank with N22million.
He called on the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi to investigate the allegation before few people would tarnish his image and reputation.
Nnamene said: “We started suspecting that the N2000, was a fraud when the National Chairman of NPA pensioner told us that the Federal Government was about to sell NPA, that all members should pay N2000 to fight for it. But some of us disagreed and inform members not to pay.
“When that did not work, he came back and said the N2000 will be used to submit our BVN, and because he threatened that if any pensioner refused to pay he or she will no longer receive their pension. Of course, some of us are ignorance, so they started paying, but we are saying this is corruption.”
An NPA pensioner, Mr. Gift Sambol, said he was angry because paying the N2000 was nothing but exploiting the poor, especially at this economic hard time.
He said: “On October 22, 2016 the same man advertised on the Vanguard and Leadership Newspapers using the name of NPA that we should report to location closet to us for the filling of BVN form. Only for him to inform us that the management of NPA said we should pay N2000, I think this man should be arrested.”
Another NPA pensioner, Mr. Benet Nwata alleged that, “ The National chairman succeeded because some people who wish to share the money with him supported the illegal extortion, he must vomit the money and justice must be done by retuning the money he collected from poor pensioners back to them.”
When contacted on phone, the National Chairman, Mr. Ayo Bimite he said he was in Lagos and added that all allegation against him was not true.
He stressed that he was going to report the matter to the appropriate authority and come back to Port Harcourt to brief our reporter on his true position on the matter.
On the day Mr. Ayo promised to see our reporter, he refused to pick all calls put across to his phone. Later, he sent a text that he was in the meeting. Since then he has refused to pick his calls.
When also contacted on phone, the NPA General Manager Eastern Zone, Alhaji Mohammed Goje he was angry initially that the reporter contacted him on a matter he supposed not to involve his name.
He simply noted that the pensioners know where to channel their matter if they are aggrieved which he noted is not in the newsroom or with the reporter.