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SERAP issues 14-day ultimatum to Obaseki to pay 42-month owed pensions or face legal action

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has threatened to institute a legal action against Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki if he failed to pay the state’s pensioners in 14 days.

In an open letter the organisation sent to the governor, it requested him to use his good offices and leadership position to “urgently pay Edo State pensioners over 42 months outstanding pension benefits and entitlements from the over N29 billion Paris Club refunds received by your government and meant for the payment of pension arrears and gratuities.”

It also asked Obaseki to “spend the Paris Club refunds to pay all outstanding pension benefits within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter, failing which SERAP will institute appropriate international and regional legal proceedings to compel your state to discharge its constitutional and international human rights obligations to Edo pensioners.

In the letter dated 8 September 2017 and signed by SERAP’s deputy director, Timothy Adewale, the organization expressed “concern about the treatment of the situation of Edo pensioners from a “humanitarian” and “charity” perspective.

“This approach by your government to addressing the conditions of pensioners in your state ignores their human rights, and the fundamental equality of individuals, and deny Nigeria of the potential contribution of pensioners to reaching national developmental objectives and goals,” SARAP said.

The letter read in part: “SERAP notes that pensioners need special protection especially given their economic, social and political vulnerability but the repeated failure by your government to spend the received Paris Club refunds to pay all outstanding pension benefits in your state has continued to prevent their access to equal treatment and enjoyment of their constitutionally and internationally recognized human rights. Edo pensioners are now at heightened risk of long term discrimination, abuse, exclusion, isolation and marginalization.

“SERAP has been fully briefed by Edo pensioners both at local government and state levels about their plight and continuing denial of their human rights to dignity, equality and non-discrimination by your government.

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“According to our information, your government has so far received from the government of President Muhammadu Buhari three tranches of the Paris Club refunds totally over N29 billion, between November 2016 and July 2017. Yet your government has failed, refused and/or neglected to pay over 42 months pension benefits as well as agreed increase in benefits, despite repeated requests by the pensioners and their families.”

SERAP therefore urged governor Obaseki to: “Urgently pay Edo State pensioners over 42 months outstanding pension benefits and entitlements from the over N29 billion Paris Club refunds received by your government and meant for the payment of pension arrears and gratuities.

“Adopt a human rights policy of guaranteeing regular payment of pension benefits and entitlements so that pensioners and their families can live decently; recognize the human rights of Edo State pensioners and ensure their full and effective enjoyment of those rights, as well as provide them with information to enable them to claim their rights.

“Treat all pensioners in Edo State as individuals with humanity and dignity and respect and promote their higher standard of living and improve economic and social conditions for all pensioners; provide Edo State pensioners with proper support and assistance to alleviate their plight, including by ensuring informal, community-based and recreation-oriented programs for pensioners to help develop their sense of self-reliance and independence and reduce opportunities for corruption in the spending of the Paris Club refunds so far received by your government”.

 

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