Justice Walter Onnoghen
Justice Walter Onnoghen

ACTING Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen yesterday attributed the ineffectiveness of the nation’s pension system to corruption and poor application of existing laws. He said the pension system would achieve its intended objective where players in the sector were guided by accountability and commitment to existing regulations. Justice Onnoghen spoke in Abuja yesterday at a two-day sensitisation workshop on the Contributory Pension Scheme, CPS, for justices, judges and senior judicial officers organised by the National Pension Commission, PENCOM. The acting CJN said: “We owe a duty to this generation and generations yet unborn to help ensure that pensioners, who devoted their lives and strengths in the service of Nigeria, receive their pension benefits as and when due. “To consolidate this consciousness, we must support the Federal Government’s fight against corruption. Here lies the need for objectivity and impartiality by regulatory officials, accountability by pension administrators and transparency by pension fund custodians and other stakeholders,” he said. Justice Onnoghen noted that some of the key challenges of the pension system included how well pension assets were managed, how well enabling laws and regulations were implemented, how well pensioners were treated, and how well the laws and regulations were fairly applied and interpreted. He added that the successful resolution of the identified challenges would guarantee that every person who worked in either the public or private sector received his retirement benefits as and when due. “I must caution that technicalities by lawyers and attitudes of certain employers, pension administrators and pension custodians must in no way hamper the good objectives of the federal government,” Justice Onnoghen said. PENCOM’s director general, Mrs. Chinelo Ahonu-Amazu explained that the workshop was intended to familiarise participants, particularly the justices and judges, on the innovative provisions of the Pension Reform Act, PRA, 2014. She said better understanding of the provisions of the new pension law by judicial officers would allow for prompt and effective resolution of pension disputes. “As it is with all new initiatives, the implementation process often results in certain challenges, and disputes may arise due to lack of adequate understanding of responsibilities on the part of stakeholders or misconstruction of the provisions of the Act. “Furthermore, in the course of enforcing compliance on recalcitrant employers by the commission, some disputes emanate that are ultimately resolved in the courts. “Therefore, the important role of the Judiciary in ensuring that the pension reform remains on course and deepened, as enshrined in the PRA 2014 cannot be over-emphasised,” the PENCOM DG said. Heads of courts at the event – Justices Zainab Bulkachuwa (president, Court of Appeal), Ibrahim Buba (chief judge, Federal High Court) and Babatunde Adejumo (president, National Industrial Court) – assured of their support in ensuring the realisation of the objectives of PRA 2014. Justice Adejumo, who noted that the support of lawyers was necessary to achieve success, suggested that PENCOM organise similar workshops for legal practitioners.

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