The Head of Public Communications, BPE, Mr. Alex Okoh, said this in a statement made available to our correspondent in Abuja on Sunday.
He was responding to an allegation made by a former director of the BPE, Mr. Ibrahim Kashim, that the payment was fraudulent.
Kashim made the allegation in a petition sent to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, where he also alleged that BPE had refused to pay his terminal benefits.
Okoh said, “It was established that there was an insurance policy between GNIP and PHCN. Premiums were outstanding for the year 2011/2012 amounting to N13,607,151,141.10 and renewable for the year 2012/2013 at the sum of N13,581,080,774.10, totalling N27,188,232,208.20, for which payment was outstanding.
“The PHCN had already filed claims with GNIP for 267 (members of) staff that died in active service for compensation to the relations/widows of the deceased. GNIP did not pay the claims because PHCN did not pay premiums due for 2011/2012 and 2012/2013.
“The PHCN submitted these claims to the implementation committee set up by the National Council on Privatisation for the processing of entitlements to PHCN staff (members) that then made representations to the then Minister of Power.
“The Minister of Power presented the matter to the then vice president in a memo dated 23/12/2013. It was subsequently presented to and approved by the National Council on Privatisation at its third meeting held on August 4, 2014 for payment. The BPE transferred the sum to the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation for further action.”
In a reaction, however, Kashim insisted that the payment was fraudulent.
He said, “It was a fraud. Even in their press release, they acknowledged that the insurance company refused to settle some claims in 2011. It shows that there was no cover as long as premium had not been paid.
“In any case, it is important to know that the Nigeria Electricity Liability Management Company was set up to handle all PHCN liabilities. Why didn’t they handle it? Why the BPE?”
On the allegation that the bureau had converted his terminal benefits to management allowance, the BPE said Kashim was only entitled to pension payment through his Pension Fund Administrator.
Okoh said an attempt made by the BPE to secure some payment for its retiring workers while they processed their retirement benefits from the PFAs was not approved by the National Salaries and Wages Commission.
Kashim, however, insisted that the bureau had in the last seven years fought for the payment of gratuity to its retiring members of staff and finally secured approval from the NCP in 2014 and got the payment approved in the 2015 budget.
He also alleged that the payment of about N1.5bn for the winding down of the PHCN was fraudulent.
“The PHCN became a shell company with no assets and liabilities. So, why spend so much to wind it down? And why were all those transactions never brought before the management committee as provided by the law setting up the agency?” Kashim asked.