By JAMES EZEMA
No fewer than thirty members of staff of the Imo State Pension Board have been arrested by operatives of Department of State Services for pension fraud to the tune of N650m.
According to the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Sam Onwuemeodo, the suspects were nabbed after an investigation showed that 92 cheques were used to perpetrate the fraud.
The cheques, Onwuemeodo said, were written in the names of people who were not pensioners.
He said, “About 30 pension board workers have been handed over to personnel of the Department of State Services over monumental fraud through pension cheques amounting to N650m.
“The cheques in question are 92, with some of them containing N10m and above.
“Most of the fake cheques were written in the names of people who are not pensioners or who do not exist, while some were written in the names of existing pensioners, who have three cheques or more.
“Only one have the actual amount the pensioner ought to have as his pension. The fake cheques have amounts from N10m and above.”
The governor’s spokesperson said the government had on Monday began to pay the pensioners 100 per cent of their outstanding pension arrears, with pensioners from eight local government areas, including Nkwerre, Ideato South, Njaba, Nwangele, Isu, Obowo, Onuimo and Orsu, being paid.
He said the government chose to pay directly to the pensioners following the discovery of the “mind-boggling fraud” in the pension cheques.