Nigeria’s Military Pensions Board (MPB) has said that only ex-soldiers with 15 years of service are eligible for pensions as stipulated by the Pensions Act and the Harmonized Terms and Conditions of Service for the Armed Forces of Nigeria.
The explanation follows threats of protest by a group called “First Intake Able Voluntary Retired or Discharged Ten or More Years of Military Service” and reports alleging refusal to pay ex-civil war soldiers monthly pensions.
The group claimed that the Board had failed to include them on the pension payroll since they were discharged from the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) 44 years ago.
However, reacting, the public relations officer, Military Pensions Board Flight Lieutenant Olayinka Lawal, said the claim was “outright misinformation and should be disregarded by the public.”
According to him, “The Board wishes to state clearly that its activities are regulated by the Pensions Act and the Harmonized Terms and Conditions of Service for the Armed Forces of Nigeria and that the Board will not act contrary to the provisions of these statutes."
For the avoidance of doubt, it is important to state that some members of this group had complained to the Military Pensions Board in the past, and the Board had made it clear to them that they were not entitled to payment of monthly pensions because they did not serve up to the required 15 years as stipulated by the Pensions Act at the time of their retirement.
“Investigations carried out at the Board revealed that the majority of the members of this group were retired from the AFN between 1 June 1977 and 31 May 1992. During this period, to qualify for payment of gratuity, a retiree must serve the military for a minimum period of 10 years and must serve for a period not less than 15 years to qualify for payment of monthly pension, "he said.
The categories of retired military personnel based on their exit dates, according to a template obtained by the leadership, are as follows:
Category 1, category 1, retired on or before 31 May 1977, category 2, retired between 1 June 1977 and 31 May 1992, and category 3. Retired June 1, 1992 to date.
According to the Pension Act, referring to Category 1, are retirees who retired on or before May 31st, 1977. They must have served in the AFN for at least 10 years before they can be qualified for monthly pensions in addition to gratuity. But if they serve up to or for more than 5 years but not up to 10 years, they will only get a one-off payment, which is called a gratuity. The same applies to categories 2 and 3.
The board, however, used the case of the leader of the group, 63NA/21654, Ex-Sargent Kasali Busari, who was recruited into the Nigerian Army on July 23, 1967 and retired on May 21, 1978 after serving for 10 years and 303 days.
“He was awarded an additional service period of 2 years and 177 days as a bonus for partaking in the Nigerian Civil War. Consequently, his total service years amounted to 13 years and 215 days.
“This falls short of the required 15 years stipulated in the Pensions Act to qualify for payment of monthly pensions at that time, but he was qualified for gratuity and was paid accordingly,” he said.
The board therefore urged all media organizations to always verify retirees' claims of non-payment of entitlements with the board before going to press.