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Aggrieved pensioners under the Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP), Imo State branch yesterday grounded activities in Owerri, the state capital protest to non-payment of their pension arrears and gratuities by the state government.
The pensioners also protested the state government’s action requesting them to forfeit 60 per cent of their accumulated pensions. According to the pensioners, under the prevailing circumstance, there was nothing to celebrate as the invitation sent to former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the Ghanaian President-elect was totally irrelevant when pensioners in the state were starving.
NUP secretary, Mr. Livinus Asiegbu, stated that it was painful for Governor Rochas Okorocha to claim the state had no money to pay pensioners when he lavished hundreds of millions of naira for Christmas decoration on the streets of Owerri.

“Okorocha even played host to the President-elect of Ghana Mr Akufo Addo and former President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo with huge amount of money yesterday December19, in Owerri, when pensioners who spent their youthful ages working for Imo State are starving and dying out of hunger and frustration,” he said.
The pensioners wondered if it would be a thing of joy for Obasanjo and Nana Akufo to know that they were hosted with the sweat and toil of pensioners who lived in abject poverty. 

The state government had last week circulated forms urging the retirees to sign and collect only 40 per cent of their pension arrears and permanently forfeit 60 per cent, while putting an end to any future demand for pensions.
A document prepared by the state which pensioners were advised to sign and be paid reads in part: “I voluntarily accept the payment due to economic situation in the country presently. I do hereby release and discharge the Imo State government and its agents from all past, present and future liabilities and from all actions, claims and demands in respect of the said accumulated pension arrears.”
However, the protesting retirees matched out in their numbers as earlier as 8am, impeding vehicular movement and forcing commuters to trek to their various destinations.
The protest came at the time, when the state governor, Chief Rochas Okorocha was playing host to the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Presidentelect of Ghana, Nana Akufor Addo, who arrived the state capital on Monday to attend the Imo Thanksgiving Day, celebration.
The two visiting dignitaries who were expected to witness the traditional wrestling contest slated for the Freedom Square Owerri on Tuesday, however left the state hours before the pensioners locked down the state capital.

Some of the pensioners who spoke to our correspondent queried the rationale behind the state government’s spending of over N600million for the Christmas decorations in the state capital and organisation of an elaborate carnival without considering the plight and accumulated pension arrears of the state pensioners.

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