The threat made by Benue State Governor, Hyacinth Alia, to remove the names of all pensioners who have obtained garnishee orders against the government from the pay-roll pending the determination of their cases has been condemned by the prominent pro-democracy group, Defenders of Democracy (DoD).
Governor Alia conveyed the threat through his Commissioner for Justice and Public Order, Fidelis Mnyim, during a meeting with pensioners in Makurdi. The pensioners claimed that 95 per cent of the garnishee orders against the government are from them.
DoD, in a statement signed by its President, Amos Uchiv, criticized the governor’s actions and described his threat against the pensioners as draconian and dictatorial. The statement reads:
“Governor Alia’s threat against the senior citizens is an abomination. No responsible and humane government would consider such a move against people of that age.
“The Governor’s threat displays a complete disregard for the welfare and rights of the retirees who dedicated the prime of their lives to the service of the state. It is dictatorial and demonstrates impunity.
“It is disheartening that Governor Alia, through his Commissioner for Justice and Public Order, Fidelis Mnyim, chose to threaten the very people who have contributed significantly to the development and progress of Benue State. Pensioners, already facing numerous challenges such as inadequate healthcare, rising costs of living, and financial instability, should not be subjected to further distress and uncertainty.
“Alia is the first Benue governor to threaten pensioners. None before him have ever treated senior citizens with such indignation. Aku, Adasu, Akume, Suswam, and Ortom never took any action of impunity against state pensioners.
“The Governor’s threat is not only an affront to the pensioners but also a violation of their fundamental rights. It is the government’s responsibility to ensure the well-being of its citizens, particularly the elderly who are more vulnerable and deserve special care and attention. Instead of prioritizing their welfare, Governor Alia has chosen to exacerbate their plight by threatening them with the removal of their means of livelihood.
“DoD believes that every pensioner has the right to access their pensions and benefits without hindrance or intimidation.
“Garnishee orders are legal instruments that protect the rights of individuals to seek justice and redress for their legitimate claims. Governor Alia’s attempt to undermine these orders is an assault on the principles of justice, fairness, and the rule of law.
“We call upon Governor Alia to immediately retract his threat and take immediate steps to address the concerns of the pensioners. The government must engage in constructive dialogue with the retirees, understand their grievances, and find lasting solutions to their issues.
“The government should demonstrate compassion and empathy towards the pensioners, ensuring that their rights are respected and their needs are adequately met.
“We urge the Benue State House of Assembly and other relevant authorities to intervene in this matter, ensuring that the retirees’ rights and welfare are protected. The legislature has a crucial role to play in holding the executive accountable and safeguarding the interests of the citizens, particularly the most vulnerable segments of society.
“Defenders of Democracy (DoD) reiterates its commitment to upholding democratic values, promoting social justice, and protecting the rights of all citizens.
“We stand in solidarity with the pensioners of Benue State and demand that Governor Alia immediately rescind his threat, prioritize their welfare, and work towards a just and equitable society.
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