N9trn Pension fund: Reps threaten to issue bench warrant on PFAs

House of Representatives threatens to issue a bench warrant to compel Pension Fund Administrators to appear before its ad hoc committee if they fail to attend the public hearing on April 4 .

Rep Johnson Agbonayinma (APC – Edo ), Chairman , Ad hoc Committee to Investigate the Activities of National Pension Commission and its administrators , gave the warning on Wednesday in an interview with newsmen in Abuja .

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the House had, after a resolution passed in February , ordered the committee to commence investigations into the activities of PenCom since April 2017 over allegation of violation of the Act establishing the commission and the N 9 trn pension fund controversy .
However , the Pension Fund Operators Association of Nigeria (PenOP ) had, in two separate letters dated Jan. 28 and April 2 , informed the committee that the PFAs would not be able to appear before the committee on Jan. 29 and April 4 .

PenOp had, in the letters, attributed the reason the PFAs would not attend the meetings ” to prior engagements slated for the same day . ”

Agbonayinma, who cautioned the PFAs against disobeying the order of the House , said the PFAs and other stakeholders in the industry were deliberately avoiding the ad hoc committee.

According to him , the pension association , which the committee did not write letters to or invite , has no right to derail the lawmakers from holding the investigative hearing .
” If they fail to appear before the committee , we would have no option than to apply the law.

” That is, we would have to seek to issue bench warrant so that they can be compelled to come to appear before this ad -hoc committee.
” We would do just that to PFAs that refused to appear before this ad hoc committee ànd any organisation , not just the PFAs that are invited but the banks and PenCom , ” he said .

The lawmaker , who expressed concern over the development , said the committee would not succumb to any deliberate effort to undermine the committee’ s work.

”We have been having different issues ; people trying to avoid coming to the public hearing .
” We had our first public hearing . In order for us to continue with our investigations that was slated for Thursday , I believe some people are trying to derail the wheel of the progress of our ad hoc committee.

” We invited different PFAs , we invited the PenCom , the acting DG , the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC ) , Trade Union Congress (TUC) and many civil societies who submitted document related to the subject matter.

” We never invited the so -called Pension Fund Operators Association of Nigeria (PenOp ).
” But we are surprised to be receiving letters; the first one we received before our public hearing telling us that the PFAs will not be able to attend under the umbrella of PenOp .

” There was no time this ad hoc committee wrote a letter to PenOp. They have been representing the various PFAs we have invited , the administrators , some of the banks and the custodians of the funds, ” he said .

Agbonayinma said the committee was surprised to receive another letter from the association on April 3 ” writing to us that the pension operators will not be able to attend the investigative hearing slated for tomorrow (April 4 ). ”

The legislator, who condemned the act , described the move as ” a plot to derail the wheel of progress of the ad hoc committee. ”
” This has to do with the Nigerian people , the workers who have worked and deserved to make sure that whatever money is deducted from their accounts should be put to use and the PenCom must do the needful, ” he said .

He, however, hinted that since no one has been indicted , the public hearing was ”to serve as an opportunity for the stakeholders to clear the air on issues raised and assure Nigerians that nothing is amiss . ”

(NAN

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