Former Biafran soldiers who were pardoned in 2011 by former President Olusegun Obasanjo are yet to receive the over N1.584billion approved for them as pensions.
Addressing newsmen at the end of their meeting in Enugu yesterday, the National Commander of Pardoned War Veterans Social Association, Col. Emmanuel Osita Ossai (rtd), flanked by his commanders from Imo, Enugu, Anambra, Delta, Abia, Cross River, Rivers, Bayelsa, Ebonyi, and Akwa Ibom states, said they were granted presidential pardon in 2011 and that N1.584billion was approved for their pensions which had not been paid to them.
He said: “I, Col. Emmanuel Ossai, a veteran commander, I am hereby telling you that since we were pardoned in May 2011, till today, we have not been paid the approved amount. The Federal Government scheduled to be paying us the amount yearly but 2011 passed, 2012, 2013, 2014 and this 2015, and five years after, the Federal Government is still owing us.”
He therefore urged President Goodluck Jonathan to see that they get the money before he hands over power to the incoming administration.
Ossai lamented that since the money was approved for them, many of their members had died without benefitting from it, adding his members who were wounded during the Nigerian-Biafran Civil War are languishing at Okwe, Imo State.
The National Commander pointed out that they had submitted their nominal role to the Secretary to Government of the Federal and that they were promised that they will gazette it, “so that we will be receiving our monthly pensions.
“What we are appealing to the Federal Government is to make sure that we are given the money which has accumulated for five years before we start waiting for pension,” he said.
Ossai said that some groups are equally claiming to be the authentic group the Federal Government should pay the money thereby causing confusion in their fold.
He claimed that before the Ikemba Nnewi, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, the Biafran warlord died, he, anointed him (Ossai) to lead the war veterans.
According to him, there are other groups formed by one Nwobosi, Okonkwo and Njokoma at Ogwashiukwu in Delta State, but pointed out that all of them are trying to throw spanners into the works because it is his group that got the blessing of Ojukwu before he died and
showed evidence that his organisation has been registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission, hence, it is the authentic group.
Ossai intimated that Ojukwu was the one that actually blessed and authorized him to lead the pardoned war veterans.
He continued: “Many people have been struggling to claim the money but God did not allow them, knowing full well that we are the right people. As my Chief of Staff earlier said, I am the General Officer Commanding, GOC. Ojukwu handed over the staff of office to me to lead others. After the handover, he embraced me and advised me that I should ensure that my men always obey the Federal Government. That we should not do anything that will provoke the Federal Government.
“Since then, we kept to this advice. The organisation is the only one recognised by Ojukwu. Let others show evidence that they were given power by Ojukwu,” Ossai stated.
He congratulated President Jonathan on behalf of his members for the bold stand he took by conceding defeat with honour. “We congratulate the president-elect, Gen. Buhari and we promise to work sincerely with the government of the day.”
Earlier, the “Chief of Staff”, Lt. Col. Mbina-Mbina, had corroborated that it was Ossai who was authorised by Ojukwu to lead the war veterans.
“When Obasanjo in 2011 went on air and granted ex-Biafran soldiers presidential pardon and prior to this in September 2009, the veterans asked Ojukwu who would led us when he was dead and that he said it is Col. Emmanuel Ossai. Ojukwu said this is your commander and he gave him the staff of office. That was how we continued the struggle and in May 2011, the Federal Government in conjunction with the Senate approved N1,584,992,100 for monthly pension to all ex-Biafran soldiers,” Mbina stated.

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