“Its Commitment To Peace, Unity”- Says Atiku
Nigeria’s former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, has described the federal government’s decision to pay pension benefits of ex-Biafran police officers as “commitment to peace and unity”.
But the Movement for Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) described as ” medicine after death”.
The Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) had commenced the payment of pension benefits of about 162 of ex-Biafra police officers and 57 of their Next of Kin in the first phase as approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Atiku, on his Twitter page said: “I commend @NGRPresident @MBuhari for ordering payment of pensions to pardoned Biafran soldiers. It shows unity!
“This move shows a commitment to peace, unity and our shared belief in one Nigeria, with justice and equity for all.
However, MASSOB in a statement released by Samuel Edeson, its national director of publicity, on Thursday, October 20, said:
“The directive that ex- Biafra policemen should be paid is medicine after death.
“For forty seven years after the civil war, these men have been denied their right. Why must it be now because President Buhari feels that by doing so, Ndigbo and Biafrans will praise him or we will forget the atrocity he committed against Ndi Igbo.
“MASSOB wishes to make it clear that even if the Federal Government of Nigeria decides to construct a second Niger bridge, dualize all the roads in south east; even if President Buhari steps down for an Igbo man to become the president of Nigeria, it cannot change our demand for independent state of Biafra.
“Ndi Igbo and Biafrans cannot be bought over with money, time for negotiation is over.
“They thought that we were joking. It is too late to cry when the head is off. President Buhari decided to pay ex- Biafran police their accumulated salaries because of the danger before him.
“The United States of America team of lawyers have dragged him and the Chief of army staff to International criminal court, ICC.
“President Buhari and the chief of army staff, General Burutai, must face criminal charges for their involvement in the genocide committed against Ndi Igbo.
“Just a month ago, he ordered Nigerian army to kill our people in the name of Operation Python Dance II.
“A week later, you turn back to give the order that ex- Biafrans police/soldiers should be paid what the Federal Government is owing them.
“Biafra has gone beyond Buhari’s imagination. No amount of intimidation, arrest, detentions and tagging of terrorists will deter us from the pursuit of a Biafra Republic.”
It would be recalled that barely 47 years after the Nigeria Civil War, Police officers who executed their professional duties on the Biafran side were to receive their pension benefits from the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) with effect from Friday, 20 October, 2017 in Enugu.
The pensions payment is eventually being made after 17 years they were granted presidential pardon for fighting on the Biafran side.
The Spokesman of PTAD, Emma Okondo, explained that after protracted delay in the payment of the pensions by the defunct Police Pension Office, 162 officers would be payrolled and 57 Next of Kin who had not been paid their death benefits would be paid in the first batch.
Currently, unspecified number of retired police officers excluding those who fought on the Biafran side, but retired from service are being owed over 30 month’s pension arrears.
Mr. Okondo in a statement recalled that Nigeria witnessed an ugly civil war between July, 1967 and January, 1970 and as a result of that unfortunate period in the nation’s history, some members of the Armed Forces, the Nigeria Police and the Paramilitary Officers who took part with the Secessionist were dismissed from the service.
However, he said the dismissal of those officers was commuted to retirement in year 2000 through a Presidential Amnesty granted on 29th May, 2000 by the Administration of the then President, Olusegun Obasanjo.
Further, he said a verification exercise was conducted for the pardoned officers by the defunct Police Pension Office and recently PTAD on one hand and the Police Service Commission on the other.
He regretted that despite the Presidential pardon and verification of these officers many of them remained unpaid years after the pardon.
He said: “However, the present administration under the able leadership of President, C-in-C of the Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, has graciously given approval for the payment of pension entitlements to these officers and their Next of Kin.
” PTAD is commencing the payment of pension benefits to the retired war affected police officers on Friday 20thOctober, 2017 in Enugu. 162 officers will be payrolled and 57 Next of Kin who have also not been paid their death benefits will be paid in the first batch.