By Nick Chibunna
Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, has been advised to use the funds accruing to the state coffers through the Paris Club refunds to settle unpaid pensions.
Former governorship aspirant in the state and chairman of Okechukwu Theodore Foundation, Mr Okey Ezeh, made the appeal in Owerri, recently, in a release to newsmen.
In the same vein, other prominent members of the society who reacted to the recent court judgement pronouncing that the pensioners are entitled to their full pensions, urged the government to comply fully.
In his part, Mr. Ezeh lamented the plight of the senior citizens who sacrificed their youth in the service of the country.
He commended the judiciary for the judgement stopping the slashing of their pensions and gratuities.
Widespread reactions to the judgement by the National Industrial Court sitting in Owerri which restrained the government from tampering with the pensioners’ pay described the judgement as a landmark.
State secretary of the Nigeria Union of Pensioner (NUP) Imo State Council, Evang. Livinus Ashiegbu, thanked God for the accelerated hearing in court without frivolous adjournments.
He also thanked Gov. Okorocha for responding positively by setting up a pensions clearance committee headed by Barr. Ugochi Nnanna and pleaded with him to expedite action on it to save the pensioners from death.
The NUP scribe also thanked the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Imo State branch, for their “uncommon show of patriotism and solidarity.”
Also reacting, a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain and former speaker in the Ikeduru Local Government Legislative Council, Hon. Justice Nzeh, said that the judgement had confirmed the judiciary a truly last hope of the common man.
Speaking, Rev. Canon Israel Ezuruike, an Anglican cleric as well as Hon. Contech Omeka, an elder statesmen, hailed the setting up of the committee but pointed out that it should not be used as a ploy to distract attention.
Meanwhile, the committee has since commenced work with the ongoing verification of all Imo pensioners. The NUP chairman in Imo, Chief Gideon Ezeji, has directed pensioners in the state to participate in the exercise.