By Christiana Ekpa
The House of Representatives ad-hoc committee setup to investigate the activities of National Pension Commission and it administrator, has threatened to issue a bench warrant to compel Pension Funds Administrators (PFAs) to appear before the committee, if they fail to attend the public hearing slated for Thursday, April 4.
The Chairman of the Committee Hon. Johnson Agbonayinma, gave the threat while briefing newsmen yesterday over letters from the Pension Fund Operators Association of Nigeria(PenOP) informing the Committee that the PFAs will not appear before the Committee.
Our correspondent reports that, the House after a resolution passed in February 2019 had ordered the committee to start investigations into the activities of the National Pension Commission since April 2017 over allegation of violation of the Act establishing the commission and the N9trn pension fund.
He lamenting that the PFAs and other stakeholders are deliberately avoiding the ad-hoc committee, adding that the pension Association which the Committee did not write letter to or invite has no right to derail the Lawmakers from holding the investigative hearing.
Agbonayinma said: “We would have no option than to apply the law. That is we would have to seek approval to issue bench warrant so that they can be compelled to come to appear before this ad-hoc committee. To the PFAs that refused to appear before this ad-hoc committee, we would do just that; anyone, not just PFAs that are invited; banks, PenCom.”
The lawmaker displayed a letter signed by the Executive Secretary, PenOP Susan Oranye and addressed to the ad-hoc committee where it was stated that “On behalf of the invited Pension Administrators, we regretfully which to inform you that they would be unable to attend the scheduled meeting as requeated due to prior industry engagements slated for the same day.”
Reacting to the development, the committee chairman said: “We have been having different issues of 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 of 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 and we never invited (Pension Fund Operators Association of Nigeria (PenOp), the call themselves, but we are surprised to be receiving letters; the first one we received before out public hearing telling us that the PFAs will not be able to attend under the umbrella of Pension Fund Operators Association of Nigeria.
“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.
“To our greatest surprise and dismay, we also received another letter today (Wednesday, April 3, 2019) writing to us that the Pension operators will not be able to attend the investigative hearing slated for tomorrow.”
Noting that no one has been indicted, he said the public hearing should rather serve as an opportunity for the stakeholders to clear the air on issues raised and assure Nigerians that nothing is amiss.