The House of Representative will upon its resumption commence the probe of the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, over the non-release of the N29 billion police pension fund.
The Chairman of the House Committee on Pension Matters, Hon. Ibrahim Bawa Kamba (PDP, Kebbi), disclosed this yesterday in Abuja, during an interview with journalists.
THISDAY checks revealed that this would bring to two the number of investigations the minister will face this year as the House had also mandated its committee on finance to scrutinise the duty waivers she was alleged to have granted some institutions and individuals in government.
Kamba said Okonjo-Iweala had refused to release the funds after it was discovered that there were problems with the police pension and that they had about N29 billion in the pension account. He stated that she refused to give power to the director who is in charge of pension but instead moved the funds to her office.
"She is the one handling it and making payments to police pensioners," Kamba alleged, saying "most at times, majority of them (the police retirees) could not access their pension and gratuity until their deaths."
He added that in spite of summoning the minister and the former pension boss, Abdulrasheed Maina, the minister refused to release the fund to the police pension office to make payments.
"This has resulted in the death of many police pensioners leaving their defendants in penury, their children could not continue with school.
"We received several petitions from such widows and orphans in our committee and she is suppose to release the funds to police pension office to enable them be paid.
"We have written to her many times and summoned her but she refused to reply. We wrote her three letters no reply," he noted.
According to him, as soon as the House resumes from the recess, Okonjo-Iweala will be re-invited to clear the air on the matter.
"And if she fail to come, we will not hesitate to invoke relevant provisions of the laws to compel her appearance," he cautioned.
The committee chairman urged President Goodluck Jonathan to ensure that police pensioners were paid their dues by compelling the minister to "return the funds to the police pension office so that they will be paid," as he observed that: "It is not proper that she is finance minister and at the same time she is handling police pension."
He re-emphasised that: "and if we exhaust all avenues without making any head way, we may have to commence a full-scale investigation."
culled from thisdaylive.com