Soldiers on Monday chased away protesting pensioners in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.

The pensioners had blocked the federal highway in protest against the nonpayment of their pensions by the state government.

The pensioners, who came with chairs, occupied a section of the Murtala Mohammed highway before they were dispersed, Punch reports.

According to an eyewitness who pleaded not to be mentioned, the pensioners who clutched their files had just arrived and sat on the road, and before they could settle down, soldiers came and chased away all of them.

He said, "Some journalists who came there were also flogged by the soldiers, and everyone ran away. They could not speak with the pensioners before this happened."

Reacting, the Special Adviser Media and Publicity to Governor Ben Ayade, Christian Ita, said in a statement titled, 'Cross River not owing verified pensioners, says commissioner,' explained that no verified pensioner in the state or local government service was owed pension.

The statement reads partly, "Speaking with some local government retirees who claimed to be owed months of pension, the state Commissioner for Local Government Affairs, Mrs Stella Odey, promised that every genuine pensioner would be paid once they undergo screening and are captured in the payroll.

"She said the periodic screening became imperative following the discovery of a high number of ghost pensioners in the payroll.

"According to her, no verified pensioner is owed a dime by the state government. She urged them to cooperate with the government by submitting themselves for screening to be captured for payment."


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