Some members of the First Intake Able Voluntary Retired or Discharged 10 or More Years in Military Service on Wednesday in Ibadan, protested their 44 years unpaid pensions.
The News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) reports that the group led by their National Coordinator, Cpl. Babawande Philips Rtd. took to the streets of Ibadan, the Oyo state capital with placards bearing various inscriptions.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that among some of the inscriptions on their placards were 44 years unpaid pensions to the Nigeria Civil War Veterans’ and ‘We are dying in silence.’
Philips wondered why their members have continued to suffer in the last 44 years, when those who rebelled against the country had been paid.
“We have been so much deprived of our pensions for the past 44 years. They have denied us of our pensions. We laid our lives for the unity of this nation.
“I wonder why they are treating us like this. We want the whole nation to know that we are being cheated.
“Those who fought from the Biafran side have been paid. Why were they paid and they left us unpaid. We that laid our lives for the unity of this nation,” he said.
He faulted the recent claim that they were not qualified because their service was less than 15 years, saying they wanted to use Decree 102 against them.
The coordinator said that such Decree could not be used against them because it was not used against Biafrans that fought the country.
“They are claiming that anyone that doesn’t serve up to 15 years is not qualified to receive pensions. They have forgotten that there was a circular that came out in 1977.
“The circular stated that any soldier that clocks 10 years or more, but less than 15 years is qualified to receive pensions.
“And they would be entitled to 40 per cent of their terminal salaries. I don’t know whether they are not aware of this circular or not,” he said.
Philips said that they had no fewer than 780 of them yet to be paid, appealing to the Federal Government to heed their clarion call.
“We appeal to the Federal Government to yield to our clarion call. If a person used a day in the war front, you can’t equate it with somebody who used a year outside the war.
“The Biafran soldiers were paid in batches and they have all been paid to the last kobo. The last batch was paid last year, about 112 of them,” he said.
He narrated how they settled ongoing litigation with government out of court in 2015 and a new biometric verification was conducted on all of them.
“We have all these documents with us. We have the verification papers, biometrically captured in 2007 and 2015. We all have it with us.
“So, we don’t know the reason why they should continue to punish us. A lot of my people are in abject poverty, many have died,” he said.
Retired Lance Cpl. Joseph Popoola, the Secretary of the group, appealed to the Federal Government and Nigerians to help them address their problem.
“It has been hard. We are suffering in silence. We appeal to all Nigerians and Federal Government to see to our problems.
“We have been on this since 2002. We were in court till 2014 when the rtd Chief Justice Inang Okoro said we should go to the National Industrial Court.
“President Muhammadu Buhari was elected in 2015. Then, we were asked to come for pension board verification, which we did. But still, we didn’t hear from them,” he said.