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Retired civil war soldiers protest unpaid 44yrs pension in Oyo

... Vows to block all Federal roads in S-West

by Maryam Olaniyi
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Hundreds of Nigerian retired soldiers, who defended the country during the 1966 Civil War, yesterday, took to the streets of Ibadan, Oyo State capital, over unpaid pensions since they retired 44 years ago.

The ex-servicemen, armed with placards with varying inscriptions, asked if they deserved what they were going through, after defending the country with their blood.

Speaking with journalists at its state headquarters, Agodi-Gate, in Ibadan, the National Coordinator of the retirees, Cpl. Babawande Phillip (retd), lamented that the most painful aspect of their situation is that the perceived enemies, who fought against the country then, have been paid by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, while they, who defended the country with all sorts of bullet wounds, are still languishing in pains and sorrow.

Phillip said, “For the past 44 years, we have been deprived of our pension rights. In 2015, we did capturing in Abuja where all of us were issued genuine certificates acknowledging us as retired soldiers. But, since then, we have been waiting. The painful aspect of it is that the Biafran soldiers that we fought against had been paid some years ago. How come we who defended the country are being left to die painfully without our pension being paid? This is unfair.

“Over 100 of us have died because no money to take care of ourselves. Some are physically challenged. Some are blind and some can’t even walk here.

He added “In December 2023, we wrote a letter to the Federal Government, Chief of Army Staff, Senate, House of Representatives and up to date, we have not heard anything. It’s a plea we are making. We don’t want to cause trouble. But you know, if a goat is pushed to the wall, it will fight back”.

“That’s why we are staging this warning protest. But, after now, nothing is done, then we will use the remaining strength to get the attention of the government. We are giving them an ultimatum before the Army remembrance day. If no one attends to us, all my members will be brought to all the Federal Government roads in Oyo State and create scenes’’.

One of the physically challenged retired soldiers, 81 years-old Mr Rafiu Olabamiji, said he has been blind since 2004 with no family as his children and his wife have died,

“This is the 20th year that I have been blind. I have lost my children and wife. No one is taking care of me. I’m all alone in the world but I would rather die than beg for alms. Please, don’t let me die like this President Tinubu”.

Two widows, who are the next of kin to their deceased husbands, Mrs Racheal Adejumo and Elizabeth Adedayo, said their pains could be better imagined. They wondered why former President Olusegun Obasanjo paid the Biafran soldiers and left the others.

“Is that how to settle the dispute? Pay one party and leave the other to wallow in poverty. This is unfair. We plead with President Tinubu to please help us reduce this suffering. No soldier’s wife can say she enjoys her husband while in service and now they are dead. Our pains are too numerous to describe”, they pleaded.

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