Some families of Plateau State civil servants who died in active service have decried the non-payment of death benefits of their loved ones.
Relatives of the deceased spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria on Monday in Jos, the Plateau State capital.
They accused the state government of refusing to heed their pleas for the entitlements.
Timothy Dalyop, one of the affected relatives, said he started processing the benefits of his late brother, Dung Dalyop, 13 years ago.
He explained that his brother died in 2009 after spending 15 years with the Ministry of Education.
Dalyop said: “When he died, the burden of fending for his family fell on me.
“That task gets tougher every year.
“The sum of N150,000 was paid to me in August 2021 out of the N1.2 million total amount.
“I have been pushing for this money in the past 13 years.
“It was just last year that I got N150,000.
“I have lost count of the number of times I visited the state pension board all to no avail.
“My brother died and left a family for me to fend for and it has not been easy.
“Death benefit is a one-off thing, so I don’t know why government is playing politics with it.
“Death benefit is only paid once, unlike pension that one receives on monthly basis.”
Dalyop disclosed that he couldn’t push for the benefits of his late brother’s wife, who also died as a civil servant, due to the cumbersome nature of the entire process.
Aisha Ngari, another relative, told NAN that her mother, Halimatu Ngari, died as a class teacher at the Islamiya School, Bukuru in Jos South Local Government in 2008.
She said: “Since she died, nothing has been paid to us as her death benefits.”
Ngari said she started pushing for her mother’s death benefits 14 years ago, but was yet to get anything out of the N2.8 million due to her.
She added: “Because of the dire need for funds for family upkeep, I was forced to give a bribe of N40,000 to a government official who promised to fast track the process, but nothing came out it.
“My mother died in 2008 and we started processing her death benefits shortly after because we needed money for feeding and school fees.
“In 2009, I was told that I have done all that’s needed and should expect payment soon, but this is the 14th year and nothing has been paid.
“Some officials of the Pension Board demanded for N200,000 bribe to enable them fast track the payment and, out of frustration, I took a loan of N40,000 and gave one of them, but as we speak, I have not received any payment.”
John Atsen, another relative, said he grew up at an orphanage after both of his parents died, with his father, Joseph Atsen, a staff of the Ministry of Education, dying in active active service in 2006.
He explained that he began processing his father’s death benefits totalling N1.2 million since 2017, but that there was no sign of success.
Atsen said: “When my father died, we were still young, so we moved to an orphanage home because our mother had died earlier on.
“It was in 2017 that I started pushing for the payment of my father’s death benefits but noting positive yet.”
On his part, Bryan Luka said he had not been able to receive the death benefits accruing to his late father, Luka Musa, who died since 2015.
Luka, who decried the agony families of deceased civil servants were passing through, called on the government to ensure speedy payment of the benefits.
He accused officials of the state Pension Board of corruption, and advised government to sanitise the system for optimal productivity and effective service delivery.
But Dan Majang, the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, while reacting to the accusations, said that the non-payment of the death benefits was not deliberate.
Majang said the problem was inherited from past administrations, adding that the current government had fashioned out modalities to offset outstanding benefits of retired and dead civil service.
He said: “It is not deliberate that we are owing death benefits of some deceased civil servants and gratuities of retirees.
“This is an inherited problem, but we are doing everything possible to clear these debts based on available resources.
“Payment of pension, gratuities and death benefits remain a priority to this government and we are not sleeping over it.”
Majang further explained that to make the payment seamless, government had signed a pact with United Capital, a private organisation, to offset the backlog.
He said: “We have signed an agreement with United Capital to pay these outstanding benefits while government will now pay the company at a later time.
“The matter is before the House of Assembly.
“Once the Assembly okays it, with the consent of the beneficiaries, payment will commence.”
The Commissioner called on the beneficiaries to be patient, insisting that government was doing everything possible to pay them.