Chief Abia Onyike
Chief Abia Onyike, former Ebony state Commissioner for Information and State Orientation, has decried the non-payment by the Ebonyi state Government his monthly pension and other retirement benefits due to him.
Onyike, who retired from the state Civil Service after 35 years of service alleged that he has not been paid his pension since June this year.
The embattled former commissioner made the disclosure in a press release in Abakaliki on Monday.
He said he might be compelled to seek legal action to compel state government to pay all arrears of pension owed him.
Onyike had alleged that Umahi through an oral directive to the state Ministry of Finance directed the stoppage of his statutory monthly pension.
He also alleged that the governor had blocked the payment of his gratuity since 2015 subjecting to horrible financial trauma.
“If by the end of this year the government continues to withhold my hard-earned and legitimate entitlements, I shall be left with no option than to take legal action.
“I joined the Civil Service in February, 1980 under the government of late Gov. Sam Mbakwe of old Imo State.
“I retired untainted as Director of Information after 35 years of meritorious service in Ebonyi in Aug. 2014.
Gov. Dave Umahi
“I think it is morally and spiritually wicked for Gov. Umahi to come now and start withholding my life entitlements; this is a terrible and vicious aberration”, Onyike said.
But, Mr Uchenna Orji, the State’s Commissioner for Information and Orientation, in a reaction said that Onyike’s claim that government has stopped payment of his pension was spurious and lacked any iota of truth.
Orji said that neither the governor nor any other authority in the state stopped Onyike from receiving his pension or any of his retirement statutory benefits.
He further explained that the process of receiving pension in the state was well known and stressed that all pensioners in the state go through these processes.
“The antics of Onyike is not new to us; the truth of the matter is that nobody stopped or gave any directive to stop him from receiving his pension or entitlements.
“The process of receiving pension in the state is known and if he fails; refuses or neglects to undergo process of automation and all the necessary documentation processes; then, who will be the person to blame ,” Orji said.
Onyike, one time deputy national president of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has been a critic of Umahi’s government for engaging in white elephant projects and neglecting the welfare of state workers.
The former commissioner had also criticised Umahi’s non appointment of Permanent Secretaries during his first tenure including alleged polarisation and proscription of some trade unions in the state.
The Summitnews correspondent recalls that Gov. Umahi had dragged Onyike to Court in a N10 billion defamation suit which is still pending in court.