Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole has said he ordered the retirement of the Head of Service (HOS), Mr. Jerry Obazele, because of the fraud his administration reportedly uncovered in pension administration.
Other top government officials, who were sent on retirement, include the Permanent Secretary in the Information and Communications Technology Agency, Mr Dan Aigbavboa, and members of the State Pensions Board.
Local government pensioners in Edo State had protested non-payment of their pension arrears.
Oshiomhole said he uncovered the alleged fraud after engaging external auditors to screen pension payments.
The governor noted that while some pensioners were unable to get their gratuities, others had two vouchers to their names.
He said three versions of pension liabilities were provided by the HOS, officials of ICT and the pensions board.
Oshiomhole said his efforts to pay gratuities before his seventh year anniversary were dashed because the data needed to pay was compromised.
He said: “The result is that I had difficulty as to which of these versions to believe. Consequently, we have had to invite some seasoned external auditors to prepare afresh, look at the pension documents and prepare a fresh voucher to enable us address this issue of accumulated gratuity benefits.
“Their intervention has been quite revealing. It shows that the Pensions Board has been riddled with fraud. Cases have now been established in which one person has two vouchers, same date of birth, same first name, same surname; everything is the same and two original vouchers for one pensioner. We have also discovered cases of people who ought to have been paid their gratuities in full in one slot; many have been paid by instalment in a manner that lends itself to fraud and manipulations.
“The implication of these is that we have had to go afresh to construct a more reliable data to enable us deal with this corruption.”