Pensioners protest against non-payment of nine years gratuity in Rivers

• Ex-agitators caution Buhari over ‘enemies’ of N’Delta as NDDC hands over former office complex

Pensioners in Rivers State, yesterday, staged a peaceful protest against non-payment of their gratuity and 10 years pension arrears.

The retirees, who matched from the state secretariat to Government House, Port Harcourt, carried placards with various inscriptions, lamented that the state government’s failure to pay them had brought untold hardship on them from 2012 to date.

They said no fewer than 300 pensioners had died due to the government’s non-compliance with the tripartite agreement reached.

The former civil servants, however, argued that every effort to make the government pay them fell on deaf ears, while complaints made at different quarters were ignored, which led to the protest.

One of the pensioners, U. D. Moses, vowed to continue with the protest until the governor fulfilled their demands, adding: “I retired in 2015 and from that time till now, I have not been paid my gratuity and I am owed three years pension arrears and some of us are owed seven years.

The Guardian sighted Commissioner of Police (CP), Friday Eboka, at the protest venue appealing to the protesters to sheath their swords, while he communicated with the governor.

“We have articulated all your grievances and I am aware that some of you retired since 2012 and until now you have not received your gratuity,” he said.

MEANWHILE, ex-agitators in Niger Delta region have appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to be wary of the antics of enemies of the region, who are plotting to stop the Interim Administrator, Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (rtd.) from implementing his vision and mandate for the programme.

Speaking through the PAP’s Strategic Communication Committee (SCC), they said some individuals were angry that Dikio’s vision, programmes and projects would end their crisis regime, as they were designed to entrench peace, empower them and ensure development of the region.

Chairman of SCC, Nature Dumale, who spoke in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, said since he assumed the amnesty office, Dikio had continued to blame his predecessors for running down the programme.

He said the amnesty boss had since assuming office, formulated and implemented reforms to correct the ills in the PAP and reposition it to actualise its core mandate.

Dumale said the ex-agitators were happy that Dikio returned the programme to its original owners in the Niger Delta and urged the region to hold regular PAP meetings and other activities despite false claims by some persons that the Niger Delta was not safe.

THE NDDC has handed over the keys of the Harold Dappa Biriye House, its former headquarters on Aba Road, Port Harcourt to the Rivers State Government.

Presenting the keys of the building to the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Dr. Tami Danagogo, NDDC Interim Administrator, Efiong Akwa, thanked the state for accommodating the commission for the past 16 years.

A statement issued yesterday by the Corporate Affairs Director, Dr. Ibitoye Abosede, said: “We are leaving this building peacefully and we are grateful to the Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike, for the support his administration gave the NDDC, especially in the last two years.”

Danagogo, who commended the NDDC for cooperating with the Rivers State Government and ensuring a friendly and peaceful hand over of the property, expressed appreciation that he personally handed over the keys.

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