By Tordue Salem, Abuja
The House of Represent is looking into a petition by a Civil Society Organization, CSO, Accountable Leadership for Better Nigeria Initiative (ALBNI) that has called for the investigation in the delay in settlement of claims of soldiers who died in service during the course of fighting insecurity and security challenges in the country.
The call was contained in a petition signed by the Executive Director of ALBNI, Mr Remi Adebayo and addressed to the Committees on Defence and Army in both chambers of the National Assembly which was made available to news men in Abuja on Tuesday
In the petition which was dated May 31, 2021, the Group urged the committees of the parliament to organise a public hearing to reveal and address factors responsible for the delay.
The Group said that the parliament should interface with the Federal Ministries of Defence and Finance to eliminate bottlenecks hampering prompt in disbursements entitlement to their next of kins.
According to group, “we hereby seek an investigation by the National Assembly to find out why the Federal Ministry of Finance has delayed the payment of premium for Group Life Insurance of the Armed Forces and thereby delaying the prompt settlement of insurance claims of officers and men who died in service
“An inter—face with the Ministry of Defence and the Federal Ministry of Finance to eliminate bottlenecks hampering seamless and prompt in disbursements of insurance claims and all benefits due to beneficiaries and next~of~kins of fallen men and officers of the Armed Forces
“A public hearing by the National Assembly to address issues causing delay in the processing and disbursement of life insurance claims and other benefits due to members of the armed forces with a view to enthroning best practices in the management of the Armed Forces Pensions,’’ he said.
The group commended the parliament for doing a good job towards ﬁnding a sustainable solution to the security challenges in the country.
It recognised the gallantry and sacrifices being made on daily basis by the men and ofﬁcers of the Nigerian Armed Forces as Nigeria contends insurgency, banditry, kidnapping threatening the fabric of the society.
It pointed out that initiative was willing to partner with the parliament to deliver on the mandate of winning back peace through intervention and legislation and to guarantee safety of all Nigerians.
“As such, we believe that the welfare of the ﬁghting Nigerian Forces is central to the successful strategy implementation of the counter-force against insurgency, banditry, kidnapping, armed conﬂicts and all sorts of restiveness across the nation.
“Indeed, the welfare of the living soldiers and families of the fallen heroes must be accorded the needed and deserved attention; we would like to draw the attention of these committees to a from page report of Saturday PUNCH of May 29,2021 where some widows of soldiers killed in the decade old war against Boko Haram insurgency were lamenting the failure of the Ministry of Defence to pay them their husbands’ life insurance claims several years after their demise.
“We consider this situation as quite disheartening as it is unjust and demoralising to the fighting spirit, commitment and effectiveness of the soldiers on the battlefield!
“The hapless widows who had to express their agonies anonymously must be passing through the pains of losing their beloved husbands to Boko Haram insurgency and now abandoned by the nation to lick their wounds.
According to it, ” one of the widows, while appealing for prompt intervention by government, said some widows including her, wrote the Defence Ministry which is in charge of the insurance but without response
“They have resorted to begging the Ministry and now turning to the Federal Government for help; we believe that your committees should stand for these deprived citizens to restore hope and patriotism as well as boost the morale of the troops fighting to keep us all safe,’’ he said.
It added that the officers and men of the Nigerian Armed Forces have continued to pay heavy sacrifices for the peace and security of the country by daily confronting criminal elements.
According to the group , “these often attract casualties on the side of our gallant soldiers and even when not felled by criminals, accidents and mishaps occure.
It said that fresh in the minds of all Nigerians was the accident that took the life of the immediate past Chief of Army Staff, the late Lt.- Gen lbrahim Attahiru and ten others through air crash.
It said that after those parades and gun salutes at the cemeteries in honour of the dead, the country should deliberately remove all barriers to prompt payment of entitlements to spouses and children.
It further added that the gesture would serve as an inspiration and honour to the memories of the men and women whose blood were exchanged for the nation’s peace and patriotic duty to their fatherland.
It also pointed out this would douse the restiveness in the various barracks and formations across the country where widows and their children were living in penury.