Chairman, Coalition of Local Government Pensioners, Benue State, Mike Vembe, has said that one of their members committed suicide by hanging due to frustrations with non payment of pension allowance.
Vembe, who led over 2,000 local government pensioners to Government House, Makurdi on Tuesday, told newsmen, “One of our members, one Gabriel Nomsha from Gwer West Local Government Area, committed suicide last week when he was not paid after he had been screened.
“The man died of frustration because he had high hopes that he would get his pension after scaling the screening process.
“When that didn’t happen, he got frustrated and went and hung himself last week.”
The pensioners who came from all the 23 local government areas of the state arrived Government House around 12 noon on Tuesday and slept at the gate overnight. They were attended to on Wednesday.
They protested the non payment of their pension allowances running into N1.1bn.
Vembe said the protest became necessary after the state ministry of finance stopped giving money to Local Government Pensions Board.
“We slept at the gate of the Government House since yesterday (Tuesday) to press home our demands for the payment of our pension.
“The Finance Ministry stopped giving money to Local Government Pensions Board and this is causing us hardship,” he explained.
The pensioners carried placards with various inscriptions, including, “Retirement is not a crime, pay all retirees, 2015 inclusive;” “Our governor, hear our prayers please;” “Our children are suffering in school;” “We are sick due to poverty and age,” etc.
Efforts by security men at the Government House to disperse them failed, as the pensioners refused to vacate the gate.
However, the governor, who was on his way to Abuja, eventually addressed them.
After listening to their complaints, Governor Samuel Ortom expressed sympathy for them and assured that their welfare was of utmost importance to his government.
He promised to do everything possible to clear their pension arrears.
The governor also directed his Special Adviser on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr. Titus Zam, to include one of the pensioners’ leaders on the Local Government Joint Allocation Committee.