439 ex-soldiers of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces last Friday stormed the office of the Accountant General and the Military headquarters at Cockeril demanding payment of their retirement benefits which they say is overdue for over 90 days.
The ex-combatants who had mobilized themselves from all around the country, and were gathered around the environs of the Ministerial Building, confided in this reporter that their action was prompted by the Accountant General’s advice on the 2nd April, 2010 that they were to receive their benefits latest 30th March, 2010.
They said based on that advice they peacefully returned to their various destinations, mostly from the suburbs of Sierra Leone hopefully expecting to receive their benefits on the stated date.
They claimed they have been checking their respective bank accounts around the country but they have been told by bank staff that no extra money has reflected in their accounts.
This discouraging statement since the 22nd up to the 30th April 2010 forced them to assemble at the Accountant General’s office to know what technicalities have deterred the payment of their benefits.
During further investigation, the ex soldiers disclosed that they have contacted NASSIT the Social Security Institution as to whether they have done the necessary paper-work to fast-track the payment of their benefits.
They claimed that NASSIT’s response was that they “have done all what is necessary to enhance the payment of their benefits and that everything was in the hands of the Accountant General.”
The ex-military men expressed discontent over the delay of the transaction process and manner in which they are being treated, considering the hardship they are facing; more especially after they had served the country diligently in difficult times.
What is now the burning issue they highlighted was that most of them claim they have already embarked on construction projects in their respective locations using the retirement benefit given to them by RSLAF. Their hopes and aspirations rest on their social security benefits to carry on with construction work especially when the rainy season is fast approaching.
Now that the 30th April deadline had expired they however agreed to exercise patience until Tuesday the 4th of May, 2010.
Asked what will be the next line of action in the event the Accountant General fails to fast track the necessary procedures for their payments, the ex-soldiers said “after the date stipulated we are not saying we will result to riotous conduct, but the consequence of our action will send a bad signal in respect of the security of the country”
“We are therefore urging concerned institutions to make whatever contribution necessary to enhance the payment of our benefits sooner than later” they cried. By Poindexter Sama