New NSITF Management Not Under Probe By Senate - Deputy GM - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE



Thursday, June 17, 2021

New NSITF Management Not Under Probe By Senate - Deputy GM

The Daily Crucible

The Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund(NSITF) on Thursday clarified that the new management of the fund is not under probe by the Public Accounts Committee of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for N62billion fraud. 

NSITF was reacting to media of the appearance of its The management before the Senate Public Accounts Committee on Tuesday to answer more questions on the query issued to it by the Auditor General for the Federation.

The SPAC is currently scrutinising the 2018 AuGF report, which indicted NSTIF management of allegedly diverting N61.1bn.

The AuGF’s query alleged that the NSTIF diverted N5.5bn from its account to Zenith Bank.

In a similar query, the NSTIF was alleged to have paid N38.2bn as personnel cost from 2012 to 2017 which was not approved by National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission.

It was further alleged in the query that the agency transferred N17.1bn to some persons and companies from the same accounts.

The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, at the last sitting of the panel on Thursday, told the newly appointed Managing Director of the NSTIF, Dr Michael Akabogu, that the agency had over 50 queries to respond to before the committee.

But reacting to the development,
the agency said the uninformed views in a section of the media that the new management was under probe is not correct.

Responding through the Deputy General Manager, Corporate Affairs, NSITF, Alexandra Mede, clarified that the Senate is probing the cumulative actions and inactions, financial malfeasance and infractions by two past management teams of the agency between 2013 and 2020, and not the new management.

Alexandra said: “What the Senate Public Accounts Committee is currently  probing is the cumulative actions and inactions, financial malfeasance and infractions by  two past management teams of the agency between 2013 and 2020 over which  the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation had earlier raised audit alarm.   This is purely in exercise of the statutory oversight function of the National Assembly. 

“The new management of the NSITF  which came into office on June , 1, 2020 has of course submitted itself and all  documents requested by the Senate to assist  in this oversight, knowing full well that government is a continuum.  
“ However, we wish to note that these financial infractions and malfeasance have also   appropriately and variously been dealt with by the EFCC and the supervising Ministry of Labour and Employment. 

“ In 2015 for instance, the EFCC  arraigned the former Chairman of the Board of the NSITF, Ngozi Olejeme alongside five other senior officials including the Managing Director and three Directors. The EFCC later made public it recovered 48 property worth billions of naira from Olejeme . The matter is still in court even with the forfeiture secured by the EFCC.   

“The Ministry on its part, set up an  Administrative Panel of Inquiry led by its then Director of Finance and Accounts K.C Awotu on February 15, 2017  to further probe  the fund especially how humongous amount in billions disappeared without vouchers, in one day. It made damming revelations and far reaching recommendations while submitting its report on July 18, 2018. Part of the recommendations have since been implemented.

“Similarly, the Bayo Somefun Executive Management team who took over the fund’s  leadership in 2017, made infractions on the extant financial regulations and Procurement Act, and other acts of gross misconduct and was subsequently suspended  .

“A Presidential Joint Board and Audit Investigation Panel was set up to investigate the suspended officers comprising three Executive Directors, Jasper Azutalam, Kemi Nelson and Tijani Sulaiman and nine other senior management members . It requested that they  respond to audit queries to which they failed, indeed the former MD and the Executive Directors refused to appear .   

“The Joint Board concluded its assignment, recommending their removal from office and the refund of the sum of N181 million. The President approved their removal  from office and replacement by a new management  .  

“Therefore, what the Senate is currently probing is not new financial infractions  rather,  a collective of breaches committed  in the agency before the advent of the Dr. Michael Akabogu led team .

“The new team has since gone to work , committed to  actualizing  the mandate of the NSITF in line with the Employee Compensation Act of 2010. It has set a new course for the rebirth of the agency and will leave no stone unturned."

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