The National Pension Commission has vowed to go tough on relatives, workers and retirees who fake the deaths of contributors to the Contributory Pension Scheme in order the get the benefits entitled to deceased persons.
To ensure that a worker is truly dead apart from other means of verification, PenCom has also asked the banks to close the accounts of reported dead persons so that they would not be able to operate bank accounts again in the country.
The pension industry’s regulator decided on this move due to growing incidences of fake deaths being organised to get out the balances in the Retirement Savings Accounts of reported dead workers.
The Head, Benefits & Insurance Department, PenCom, Obiora Ibeziako, disclosed this while speaking on the administration of retirement benefits and efforts to safeguard the pensions of workers.
He said, “Nigerians have been dying and resurrecting. If you send us a notification that you are dead, we will make sure that your bank blocks your account also.
“We have seen people fake their own deaths; we have seen spouses fake the deaths of their partners when the PFAs start the due process.
“In fact, in a particular case, they were processing a man’s death benefit and he walked in and everybody picked up. The wife had actually procured obituary announcement, everything that required to be done without the man knowing.”
He added that “There was a particular case, we called the man and he said yes, he arranged his death that he needed the money.
“So, the PFAs shall seek the commission’s approval to get the legal beneficiaries and the available balance in the deceased RSA account. For any deceased RSA account, the PFA must send the request to the commission for approval.”
PenCom had earlier said in a circular, “The commission has received series of complaints from retirees, who alleged that their PFAs have wrongfully paid their benefits to their next of kin or legal beneficiaries, while they are still alive and in active service without their consent.
“Following these complaints and reports by the PFAs, it has become imperative to issue additional measures to curb these complaints and strengthen the processes and practices of processing and payment of death benefits.”
PenCom ordered the PFAs to contact the employer of the deceased for verification and confirmation of the death of the employee.
The pension regulator ordered the PFAs to ensure due diligence and conduct a search at the probate registry of the issuing authority to confirm the genuineness of the documents as well as the verification of the information of the named administrator and sureties.