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Retired teachers shut A’ Ibom road over pension, gratuity arrears

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Pensioners under the aegis of the Retired Primary School Teachers and Next of Kin of Deceased Teachers, on Wednesday, blocked the IBB Way, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, to protest against non-payment of their arrears and gratuities.

They also expressed sadness at the non-refund of the 7.5 per cent deducted from their salaries while in service.

The group displayed placards with different inscriptions, including, ‘Accountant General, pay us our pension arrears,’ ‘Emmanuel, save our souls,’ ‘The agonies of retired primary school teachers and widows/next of kin of deceased primary school teachers,’ among others.

In a statement jointly signed by the Chairman and Secretary of the group, Rev. Felix Cookey, and Mr Benjamin Benson, respectively, the protesters lamented that after a verification exercise, only N600m was released for gratuities out of the arrears of N28.8bn.

Speaking on unpaid pensions, the chairman said it was “unthinkable” for the governor to withhold their only source of livelihood since 2015.

“Early this year, the government carried out a verification exercise to ascertain the actual number of retired teachers, both living and late ones.

“In the course of the verification, 3,503 living teachers were duly verified and 1,479 late cases, with the total number standing at 4,982 with financial involvement of N28.8bn.

“Out of this number, only about 118 living teachers and 163 late cases were paid within batches 1, 2, 3, and the amount of money used is about N600m.

“This amount is grossly inadequate and going by the trend, it means that the governor will not finish 2011 living and 2014 late cases,” he added.

Cookey noted that teachers who retired in 2015 were owed 10 months’ arrears from July 2015 to April 2016.

Efforts to speak with the state Commissioner of Information and Strategy, Mr Ini Ememobong, proved abortive, as his lines were switched off as of the time of filing this report.

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