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3,000 ex-Biafran policemen to embark on hunger strike

Awka — No fewer than 3,000 ex-policemen, who served under the defunct Republic of Biafra have threatened to embark on indefinite hunger strike following the non-payment of their retirement benefit since after the civil war.

Ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo had in 2,000 granted amnesty to policemen, and soldiers who served under the Biafran Republic and in 2001, he announced the payment of retirement benefits to them in the spirit of national unity.

But since 2001 till date, the policemen are yet to be paid their entitlement, which their leader described as the height of wickedness and neglect.

Through a petition signed by Ozo Charles Machie, the national chairman, Association of Retired War Affected Ex Biafran police officers, South East and South South to President Goodluck Jonathan, the group lamented: "The insensitivity of the Federal Government of Nigeria towards the slow and uncompleted implementation of the Amnesty conditions granted Ex-Biafran war affected police officers from South- East and South South states of Nigeria since May 29, 2000. It leaves much to be desired. We are entitled to full pension and gratuity based on our periods of service from the date of enlistment to 29/5/2000, the effective date of amnesty. Which implies the date of re-instatement the period treated as leave without pay.

"The ignoble roles by the National Pension Commission (PENCON) and the Nigeria Police Pension offices that deliberately refused for over five years to pay full pensions and gratuity to all police officers and deceased N.O.K who were dismissed as a result of the Nigeria Civil War via Decree No. 46 of August 15, 1970 but later re-instated with effect from May 29 2000, via Federal Government proclamation of Amnesty dated September 20, 2001. The act tantamount to man inhumanity to man.

"On the appointed date of payments, the retire officers arrived at the venue to receive their gratuities and pensions. They were further requested to submit their banks statements of accounts that bear the "logo" of the bank in addition to others letters of introduction. Soon after the documentation, one of the paying officers announced to the audience that they (paying officers) mistakenly came to pay them with wrong cheques. The cheques that had been previously used 10 months earlier by the Presidential Task Force, Abuja. The retirees (audience) were later dismissed without returning their identification documents, non-payment of their retirement benefits; instead they were advised to go home and continue to listen to their radio sets for future announcements. The paying officers returned with the already signed cheque leaflets; identification letters and retirees statement of account numbers. Until this time of complaints, no money has been paid into the respective bank account of the retired Police War Affected Officers.

"The Association of Retired War Affected Police Officers from South East and South South states of Nigeria is therefore complaining that the money meant for the names of their members shortlisted for payment has neither been paid personally with the issued bank cheques nor has been paid to their respective bank accounts. The lists are attached to this appeal for easy reference. The Association of ARWAPO therefore requests that his Excellency, Mr. President, be disposed to direct the reproduction of the names and addresses of War Affected Ex- Biafran Retirees. To facilitate easy cross checking of the computer data productions, Mr. President is also humbly requested to be disposed to direct that all Ex-Biafran War Affected Police Officers who are yet to be paid their full pension and gratuity to submit their names and addresses to the respective commissioners of police of their geo-political zones in the country. It would be necessary to include the period of services and the data with which the pensions and gratuities were computed for payment in the interest of transparency, fraud-free and fairness.
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