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Chuks Udo Okonta
The National Pension Commission (PenCom) has approached the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to prosecute employers that victimised employees for blowing whistle on non-remittances of their pension contributions.
PenCom in a submission made to the National Assembly, said it has been informed about a worrisome development where companies deducting pension contributions from the emoluments of their employees and not remitting same.
“The employees often initiate investigations into the pension liabilities of companies by way of complaints. However, instances abound were complaints of this nature gravely expose the employee to loss of job and an ultimate price for whistle blowing on ground of the perpetuated illegalities of their employers.
“The Commission views this as a financial crime and has accordingly approached the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to collaborate with it to address this situation,” PenCom said.
The Commission noted that employers that fail to remit outstanding pension contributions and established penalties are further approached for civil compliance through administrative mechanisms as set out in the Regime of Sanctions of the Commission, adding that the sanction regime include and are not limited to the issuance of demand letters, letters of warnings, letters of caution and outright sanctions. Resort to litigation is the last option exercised by the Commission.
“As at 2014, Two Hundred and Forty Three (243) employers that failed to remit outstanding pension contributions and established penalties have been subjected to legal action and are at different stages of prosecution at the National Industrial Court,” it added.
PenCom posited that its efforts at recovery are not without unpleasant experiences, stressing that there abound situations where officers of the Commission and the Recovery Agents are accosted with hostility in the conduct of their assignments.
It noted that oftentimes, its officers are not assisted with relevant information and that attempts to directly intervene often elicit no responses until litigation is commenced.
“Some organizations often insinuate grand collusion to defraud them of the determined sums meant for their employees. Some of the organizations lay claim to alleged witch-hunt when prosecuted for non-compliance,” it added.