The director-general of the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) Chinelo Anohu-Amaz has been accused of running the commission like a personal property even as many senior staffers want the president to remove her from office.
The National Pension Commission (PENCOM ) was established by the Pension Reform Act (PRA) 2014 and later PRA 2014 to ensure effective administration of the Nigerian pension industry. It has been empowered by the PRA 2014 to superintend on all pension matters in Nigeria including supervision and regulation of the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) and the old Defined Benefits (DB) Scheme as well as the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD).
The crisis, which has lingered for some time, is now worsening as senior management staff of the organization are no longer comfortable with the leadership of Chinelo Anohu-Amazu, whom they claim has broken every rule in the book since she assumed office as director-general of the organization.
Findings at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja have revealed that besides allegations of conflict of interest and sundry abuses, PENCOM insiders are particularly miffed at the director-general’s continued use of contacts in high places to run roughshod over everyone and every principle of neutral and effective pension administration as a regulator.
They are baffled that this could be going on under the present administration.
It would be recalled that Mrs Anohu assumed headship of the organization in very controversial circumstances, having used her contacts in the Presidency to pressure the National Assembly to reduce the statutory 20 years’ experience for headship of PENCOM to 15 years in order to accommodate her. Industry watchers and lawmakers were scandalized by the open arm-twisting but were handicapped by the powerful pressure her backers brought to bear on the situation.
PENCOM insiders and industry stakeholders insist that her determination to transfer the funds of an active pension fund administrator to another firm, Premium Pension Limited, in which her family has interests, is largely responsible for several unlawful and professionally embarrassing measures the commission has been constrained to take.
The said firm is a family business in which the DG`s mother, Mrs. Virgy Anohu, served two full terms of five years each (10 years), which is the absolute maximum allowed under PENCOM regulations. The DG`s mother was replaced on the Premium Pension board by her elder brother.
Emerging facts indicate that the DG, using a letter she instigated from the sacked managing director of the pension fund company she aims to take over, used the commission to conduct an examination and write a spurious “Draft Target Examination” with which she sought to remove three shareholders of the firm without due process, or fair hearing.
Curiously, the sacked managing director, whose case was ostensibly the basis for the regulator`s intervention, was appointed and remains the chief executive officer of the Premium Pension Limited, a firm in which the DG`s family has substantial interests.
Justice D. U. Okorowo of the Federal High Court in Abuja on August 11, 2011, gave an injunction, which was served on the commission the next day, restraining the DG from taking any action whatsoever based on the spurious draft report. But the DG acted in defiance of the court order. The letter of the attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice, directing PENCOM to obey the court order was also ignored.
The subsequent judgments of 10 July and 18 July 2012, by Justices Okechukwu Okeke and Okorowo, respectively, asking PENCOM to reverse the unlawful actions it had taken in defiance of a subsisting court order and restraining its agents and collaborators, including the EFCC and the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), from taking further actions on the matter, were also ignored by the DG.
Meanwhile, the commission has not done anything to resolve the “issues” on the basis of which it allegedly took over the management of the pension fund administrator. That is why we now have the case of an unprecedented five-year intervention by PENCOM without improving the fortunes of the pension funds management company.
Pension insiders and major stakeholders are raising questions for which the DG is not likely to have any satisfactory answers any time soon. Has the commission managed the said firm the DG has been playing games with profitably since it took it over five years ago? Should firms that was doing well and paying dividends to its shareholders carry on for five full years without paying any dividends, or conducting itself as a responsible social citizen simply because the regulator says it is under an `interim management` it set up in defiance of court orders and several letters from the attorney-general of the federation?
Worse still, investigations have confirmed that the DG actually approached some key shareholders in the firm she has been working to take over, urging them to sell their shares to her preferred buyer without success. Thereafter PENCOM , which has become another name for the DG`s whims, has actually been working hand in gloves with a certain Kashim Imam, who has been her desperate collaborator in the take-over bid.
Investigations further revealed that Imam and the DG have repeatedly tried unsuccessfully and unlawfully, to arm-twist the majority shareholders into a position that would readily serve the empire-building aspirations of the DG.
They are alleged to be jointly and severally using the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to harass and seek to embarrass the lawful owners of the company. Like PENCOM , the EFCC has consistently ignored court orders and letters from the AGF on the matter of unlawful harassment of certain persons after courts of competent jurisdiction have entered all judgments in their favour on the matter. It has ignored the AGF`s several letters demanding for the case file on the matter and has run up a monumental record of abuse of court process on this very issue alone.
The question for many people now is whether the Presidency is also working for and with the controversial and less than scrupulous PENCOM DG. As a PENCOM senior management staff said, “We really don’t know what is going on anymore. The DG is bragging that no one can touch her and the EFCC, or at least some people in the EFCC are aiding and abetting some of the very terrible things going on here. She wants to get us all into trouble; meanwhile none of us here is going to share in all the business interests she is amassing here.”
Efforts by our reporter to reach Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amaz for her angle to the report proved futile as letter sent to her office was yet to be responded to as at press time.