By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
The Senate yesterday passed for third reading, the Pension Reform Bill, which prescribes ten-year jail term for any person who misappropriates the pensioners money, which is in addition to paying three times, the amount misappropriated.
This followed the passage of the Pension Reform Act 2014 which now, officially accommodates employees of private firms in the contributory pension scheme.
In compliance with the passage of this bill, any person who works in any of the public services of the federation or the private sector, would receive pension benefits based on the particular pension plan one operates.
Accordingly, firms which have up to three employees would join the contributory pension scheme, in addition, refunds by pension thrives to Pension Commission would be paid into the Pension Protection Fund, which will be established by Section 82 of the Act.
It also stipulates that whoever that attempts to misappropriate the fund, on conviction, will be liable to the same punishment as it is prescribed for the full offence in the act.
In addition to payment of fines and serving the required jail terms, the Act also mandate anyone who misappropriate pension fund to forfeit to the federal government, any property, asset or fund with accrued interest on the stolen money.
The Act also imposed a fine of N10m on any pension fund administrator which failed to meet the obligations of the contributors while each of the directors of the firm would pay N5m each as fines.
“Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law, the commission may, in addition to the penalties stipulated under this Act, impose additional sanctions on the board, any director, management, manger or officer of a pension fund administrator or pension fund custodian that violates any of the provisions of this Act”, it added.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service, Aloysius Etok, who championed the Bill, told journalists that the Senate has agreed that whoever will become the Director-General of the Pension Commission should have fifteen year post-qualification experience.
According to him, “The post-qualification experience for the one who would be Director-General of Pension Commission is 15 years. In Nigeria, professional pension administration would be about ten years.
“And because we are talking about cognate experience, not post qualification experience. Because if you are talking about post qualification experience what about somebody who has 30 years post qualification experience with two years cognate pension experience. Is he better than someone with 10 years cognate experience in pension administration”, he added.