The Kano State Police command thwarted planned protests of a group of pensioners in the state by deploying armed officers who besieged their temporary secretariat.
Police officers barricaded the road leading to Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Press Centre, their meeting venue from Maraba Cinema with seven vehicles to prevent the pensioners’ planned protests.
The pensioners under the aegis of Kano State Pensioners Forum (KSPF) were planning to protest against the state government’s delay in settling their outstanding gratuities, pension arrears and death benefits, amounting to N12.1 billion.
Secretary of the KSPF, Baffa Saidu Kiru, who expressed disappointment at the invasion of their meeting point, insisted that protesting against their rightful benefits was their fundamental human rights.
He, however, said the Police action was wrongly placed, but denied any planned protests.
Baffa lamented that the state government had failed to sustain the remittance of the monthly percentage to their pension contributions.
He disclosed that 7,606 beneficiaries had been denied their entitlements just as he accused the Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP) of sabotaging members’ interests.
“The government is owing the pensioners N12.1billion gratuities, arrears and death benefits. Over 7,000 beneficiaries are affected and have been languishing while waiting endlessly for their benefits.
“Worse still, the government has stopped remitting its own contribution to the pension scheme. Again, the union that we rely upon to fight our cause has sold out and compromised.”
Reacting to the group’s allegation, Chairman of NUP in Kano, Salisu Ahmed Gwale, dissociated the NUP from the group’s agitations, saying NUP was duly registered and recognised by the trade union and that the activities of the forum were illegal.
On whether the agitations of the forum were genuine or not, Salisu said although they are genuine pensioners in Kano, their activities were not in consonance with NUP’s aspirations, adding that the union would prevail on the state government to ensure quick payment of the pensioners’ outstanding benefits.
When contacted, Police spokesperson in Kano, Magaji Musa Majiya, confirmed the invasion of the pensioners meeting venue, saying the action was aimed at preventing hijack of the protest by political hoodlums.
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