The Federal Government has commenced payment of monthly pension to soldiers of the Nigerian Army who defected to fight on the side of Biafra during the Nigerian Civil War from 1967 to 1970.
The Chairman of the Military Pensions Board, Air Commodore Mohammed Dabo, made the comment while playing the host to the Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, in Abuja, on Thursday.
Dabo said that the Military Pension Board had already enrolled 160 of the ex-Biafran soldiers for the payment of their monthly pensions.
According to him, the ex-Biafran soldiers were soldiers of the Nigerian Army who defected to Biafra but were granted Presidential pardon by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, in 2000.
The Militay Pension Board’s Chairman said that the board had to take the step to enforce payment of pension to them because the dismissal of the ex-Biafran soldiers from the Nigeria Army had been converted to retirement.
He stated also that the Board had also been receiving additional list of such category of soldiers published in various Federal Government budgets.
Dabo said that the commencement of payment of pension to the ex-Biafran soldiers had triggered agitation from soldiers of the Nigerian Army considered ineligible for pension for spending less than 15 years in the service.
He said, “Sir you may recall that the Federal Government in May 2000 granted Presidential pardon to personnel of the Nigerian Armed Forces who defected to Biafra during the civil war. Their dismissal was therefore commuted to retirement. Subsequently, the Federal Government directed for their inclusion in the pension payroll which has generated a lot of irreconcilable problems.
“For instance, the ex-service men are currently paid monthly pension on the bar; that is assuming that they are 35 years of service irrespective of actual level of service. One of the major contentious issues is the continuous receipt of additional list of Presidential pardoned soldiers published in various Federal Government gazzets.
“Out of the numerous names received, over 160 have so far been successfully placed on the payroll.
“Additionally, the issue has also generated agitation from ex-soldiers who served on the Federal side but were not considered eligible for pension because they served less than 15 years. (Punch)