The Military Pensions Board has said ex-military men who fought on the side of the Nigerian government during the civil war are not entitled to receive monthly pensions.
The ex-soldiers had accused the Federal Government of not paying their entitlements since they left the military about 44 years ago.
The veterans, under the umbrella of the First Intake Able Voluntary Retired or Discharged Ten or More Years in Military Service, also said they were being excluded from pension payment by the Military Pensions Board and efforts to get them included had been unsuccessful.
The National Coordinator of the group, Babawande Philips, vowed to embark on a nationwide protest on Wednesday to press home their demands.
However, speaking in interview with our correspondent on Friday, the spokesman for the board, Flight Lieutenant Olayinka Lawal, said the retired soldiers did not serve up to the 15 years stipulated by the Pensions Act and the Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Service for the Armed Forces of Nigeria to qualify for what they were demanding.
Lawal said, “The Military Pensions Board seeks to use this medium to respond and correct the allegation by a group called First Intake Able Voluntary Retired or Discharged Ten or More Years Military Service.
“The group claimed that the board has failed to include them on the pension payroll since they were discharged from the Armed Forces of Nigeria 44 years ago. This is outright misinformation and should be disregarded by the public.
“The board wishes to state clearly that its activities are regulated by the Pension Act and the Harmonised 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 made it clear to them that they are not entitled to the payment of monthly pensions, because they did not serve up to the required 15 years as stipulated by the Pension 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 June 1, 1977 and May 31, 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 pensions. “
He added that one of the leaders of the group, Sergeant Kasali Busari, was awarded additional service years for participating in the war, but could still not meet the stipulated years to qualify for monthly pension payment.
Lawal stated, “A case in point is that of the leader of the group, 63NA/21654 ex-Sergeant 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 two years and 177 days as bonus for partaking in the Nigerian Civil War.
“Consequently, his total service years amounted to 13 years, 215 days. This falls short of the required 15 years stipulated in the Pension Act to qualify for payment of monthly pensions at that time, but he was qualified for gratuity and was paid accordingly.
“Therefore, the MPB wishes to appreciate Punch for approaching the board for clarification on this matter.”