NSITF Board To Appear Before Senate Committee Over Alleged Missing N17.1bn

The NSITF Headquarters in Abuja.

 

The management of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) is to appear before the Senate Committee on Public Accounts on September 22, to answer queries over the alleged misappropriation of N17.1 billion naira.

The office of the Auditor General of the Federation from its 2018 audit report had raised queries on misappropriation of the fund.

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In the 2018 report, the AuGF said N17.1 billion was the total amount of money transferred by the NSITF from its Skye and First Bank accounts into various untraceable accounts belonging to individuals and companies from January to December 2013.

According to the audit report, 50 different queries were raised bordering on alleged misappropriation of funds by the management of the agency.

NSITF board management appeared before the committee last week where they could not justify the expenditure of N17.158 billion.

The SPAC, chaired by Senator Mathew Urhoghide (PDP Edo South), interrogated NSITF’s past and present managements on the issue, on Friday.

The panel asked the management team, where monies totalling N17.158bn were transferred between January and December 2013.

The management could not offer any satisfactory explanations for the undocumented multiple transfers.

Managing Director, Michael Akabogu, claimed that termites have eaten up some documents which contained details of spending by the agency in 2013. He told the lawmakers that the vouchers could not be produced.

Similarly, NSITF MD from 2010 to 2016, Umar Munir Abubakar, said he could not provide answers as the audit was not carried out during his tenure.

His successor Adebayo Somefun (May 2017 to July 2020) said those in the account section should be able to trace the documents.

As a result, the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation queried the agency for spending the funds without appropriate supporting documents because payment vouchers relating to transfers together with their supporting documents were not provided for audit.

Consequently, the purposes for the transfers could not be authenticated.

NSITF Recruitment: Reps To Probe Labour Ministry Over Federal Character Breach

A file photo of the House of Reps.

 

The House of Representatives is to investigate the alleged unfair recruitment process into the National Social Investment Trust Fund (NSITF) by the Ministry of Labour and Employment.

In a motion by Representative Ismail Tijani, he alleged undue favouritism for persons from one particular part of the country into the agency.

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Tijani’s motion reads, “The House notes that the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) is currently recruiting for positions at the management level.

“Concerned that only people from one particular part of the country are being recruited in the current exercise, which negates the principles of Federal Character

“Aware that the Minister of Labour and Productivity has been embroiled in a battle to control Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs), including the NSITF, and had been summoned by the National Assembly for the alleged misdemeanour in 2016 and 2021 respectively.

“Also aware that the summons was based on allegations of employment irregularities, impunity, and anomalies indicating gross abuse of office.

“Worried that the current recruitment process at the NSITF, which is alleged to be biased could negatively affect the promotion of hardworking staff of the organisation.”

According to the lawmaker, the House is worried that the Minister’s alleged reign of impunity across the ministries and agencies under his supervision has continued unabated despite engagements and interventions by the National assembly.

He stated that the parliament is “disturbed that the alleged undue favouritism in the ongoing recruitment exercise at the NSITF could prevent the country from deriving the maximum benefits from the MDAs.”

This is not the first time that the House would bring such allegations against the Minister of Labour, Dr Chris Ngige.

Alleged N1bn Fraud: EFCC Arraigns Ex-NSITF Chairman, Olejeme

A file photo of Dr Ngozi Olejeme.

 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday arraigned a former Board Chairman of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), Dr Ngozi Olejeme, before Justice Maryam Aliyu of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, Jabi in Abuja.

Dr Olejeme was arraigned on nine counts bordering on criminal conspiracy, abuse of office, diversion of public funds and money laundering.

She was alleged to have abused her position to obtain over N1.384 billion and $48,485,127 while in office.

The offence, according to the EFCC, contravenes the provisions of Sections 8, 9 (1) (b) (1), punishable under the Corrupt Practice and Other Related Offence Act 2000 and Sections 17, (1) (2), 39 of EFCC (Establishment) Act, 2004 and punishable under the same section.

Count three of the charge read, “That you Dr. (Mrs.) Ngozi Olejeme being the former Board Chairman of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), sometime between 2012 and 2015 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, while being entrusted with dominion over money belonging to the Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) dishonestly received the sum of N350,000,000.00 (Three Hundred and Fifty Million Naira), the sum was paid into Able Jes Nigeria Limited GT Bank Account No. 323277283110, a company you have interest and used your position to confer unfair advantage upon the said company by receiving various payments from BDCs; the sum of N20,670,000.00 (Twenty Million, Six Hundred and Seventy Naira) by one Hassan Kano, a BDC Operator on the 26th April, 2013; the sum of N236,350,000.00 (Two Hundred and Thirty Six Million, Three Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira) paid by one Musa Adamu, a BDC Operator on the 21st of April, 2013; the sum of N20,670,000.00 (Twenty Million, Six Hundred and Seventy Thousand Naira) paid by Mansur Abubakar, a BDC Operator on the 30th April, 2013; the sum of N16,160,000.00 (Sixteen Million, One Hundred and Sixty Thousand Naira paid by one Dauda Bullama on the 30th April, 2013; and the sum of N36,570,000.00 (Thirty Six Million, Five Hundred and Seventy Thousand Naira) paid by one Sauki, BDC Operator on the 8th of May, 2013 thereby committing an offence contrary to Section 19 and punishable under the same Section of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offence Act, 2000.”

Count four read, “That you Dr (Mrs) Ngozi Olejeme being the former Board Chairman of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) sometimes between 2012 and 2015 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, while being entrusted with dominion over money belonging to the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) received benefit to doing a favour in the discharge of your official duties to (NSITF) by receiving the sum of N505,000,000.00 (Five Hundred and Five Million Naira) from Sir Adebayo Adebowale Aderibigbe which was sourced from the monies paid by (NSTTF) to Fountain Media Consults Ltd and Fountain Legal Services accounts as kickbacks and thereby committed an offence Contrary to Section 8(i) (b) (ii) and punishable under Section 8(D) (i) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.”

The defendant pleaded ‘not guilty’ when the counts were read to her. Upon her plea, counsel to the EFCC, Steve Odiase, asked for a trial date.

The defence counsel, Paul Erokoro, informed the court of a pending bail application which was filed on October 18 and urged the court to grant his client bail on self-recognisance or in the alternative, in the most liberal terms.

He informed the court that his client was not a flight risk as she voluntarily returned to Nigeria when she heard that the prosecution wanted to question her.

Erokoro further stated that the bail application was predicated on medical grounds as the defendant has been diabetic and hypertensive for 30 years, and has had four major surgeries in the U.S and South Africa.

He said the defendant’s recent medical report from Federal Medical Centre, Jabi revealed that she required close medical monitoring as her medical status could lead to a medical emergency.

The prosecuting counsel did not oppose the bail application but urged the court to refuse the grant of bail on self-recognisance as suggested by the defence counsel.

Justice Aliyu, thereafter, adjourned the case till Friday for ruling on the bail application and remanded the defendant in the custody of the EFCC.

Buhari Sacks MD NSITF, Reconstitutes Board

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the sacking of the top management staff of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), reconstituting the board.

This was disclosed in a statement signed spokesperson of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Charles Akpan.

The NSITF Managing Director and Chief Executive, Bayo Somefun, and the Executive Directors in charge of Finance, Jasper Azuatalam; Investment, Operations, and Administration, Tijani Sulaiman and Human Resources, Olukemi Nelson, were relieved of their positions with effect from July 1, 2020.

Also relieved of their appointments were the nine top Management Officers on suspension with the MD and EDs who had their appointments terminated compulsorily with some to be retired after demotion in ranks from their present Ranks as recommended by the Panel.

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The reconstitution of the board followed the approval of the recommendations in the Report of the Presidential Joint Board and Audit Investigation Panel set up by the President in July 2020 to investigate the infractions of the Public Procurement Act, 2007, and the Financial Regulations (FR) in the NSITF.

Consequently, Dr Michael Akabogu has been appointed as the new Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Agency.

Others appointed are Mrs Akinwale Caroline Temitope, Executive Director, Finance and Investment, Mrs. Alagoa Maurine, Executive Director, Administration and Mr Gana Modu, Executive Director, Operations.

Mrs Lauretta Adogu and Alhaji Najeem Yasin were appointed as nominal directors on the Board.

Adogu, the Director, Department of Occupational Safety and Health, is to represent the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment. She replaces Dr, Ifeoma Anyawutaku now a Permanent Secretary. Yasin, the Deputy President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) replaces late Khaleel Ibrahim who died sometime in October 2020 as the NLC representative.

The MD and the three Executive Directors are to refund the NSITF Treasury the total sum of N181, 056,000 being illegal overpayments in salaries, allowances such as overseas travels, leave allowances for self and spouses in overseas, house allowance, DSTV, and club registration, and extraneous allowances not approved by the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC).

The other nine top Management staff whose appointments were terminated for various infractions and who have also benefitted from the excess remuneration are to refund such overpayments to the Panel.

These staff are Bashorun Olumide, the General Manager, Administration, AlhajiLawanTahir, the General Manager, Finance and Accounts, Chris Esedebe, General Manager, Claims and Compensation, Enyinanya Sike, Deputy General Manager, Finance, and  Dorothy Tukura, Deputy General Manager, Training.

The others are Victoria Ayantuga, Assistant General Manager, Audit,  Dotun Adegbite, Deputy General Manager, Investment, Arokoyo Olutoye, Deputy General Manager, Legal, and Abdul Rasheed Lawan, Deputy General Manager, Procurement.

The President equally directed a “total overhaul” of the Procurement Department of the NSITF with a new team of Procurement Officers be trained from the pool of existing staff and deployed to the Department while all the staff that has been serving therefrom 2017 – 2020 be removed and made to undergo disciplinary actions for offences ranging from the injection of extraneous companies and projects after advertisement and bidding has been concluded, contract splitting, initiation of procurement contract without budgetary allocation, conversion and switching of one fully bided project to another.

All officers indicted are to receive the appropriate official sanction by the Board.

The President also approved and directed that the Head of Service of the Federation terminate the appointment and dismiss the erstwhile Head of Procurement Department Abdulrasheed Lawal from the Public Service with effect from the date of suspension.

The President also approved that erring companies and persons who default/neglect/refuse to make refunds of illegal monies paid to them will be sent to Anti-Graft Agencies (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission – EFCC and Independent Corrupt Practices Commission – ICPC) by the Minister of Labour and Employment for further necessary action.

The Honourable Minister of the supervising Ministry via the Management Board to take all appropriate actions as the need arises to revitalise and reposition the Organisation to fulfil their mandates in accordance with the Enabling Act.

This will include restructuring and streamlining the activities of the Organisation to attain the overall goal envisaged in setting up the organisation.

Reps Ask Buhari To Reinstate NSITF Mgt

A file photo of lawmakers during plenary at the House of Representatives chamber in Abuja.

 

Lawmakers in the House of Reps want President Muhammadu Buhari to reinstate the suspended management of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).

The House made the resolution when it adopted the report of its committee which investigated what they describe as the arbitrary breach of presidential directives by the minister of labour and employment, Senator Chris Ngige.

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The committee had asked the House to declare that the procedure leading to the suspension of officials of the NSITF by the minister is in breach of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund act.

Also at plenary, the House mandated its committee on police affairs to investigate the circumstances surrounding the invasion of the home of the former acting managing director of the NDDC, Joi Nunieh.

The Deputy Majority Whip, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, who raised the motion queried the motive behind the invasion.

She claimed the action was done to prevent her from giving her testimony before the House Committee on the NDDC.

Armed security operatives surrounded the home of Joy Nunieh, in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital at about 4 a.m on July 16, 2020, in an attempt to break into her apartment for hours without success.

Ms. Nunieh reached out to the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike who swiftly responded to her distress call and came with his aides to challenge and stop the attempted arrest.

Wike eventually asked the operatives to leave the former NDDC MD’s premise, an order which was grudgingly complied with.

Afterward, the governor asked Ms. Nunieh to get into a vehicle in which she was transported back to the State House where she is currently taking refuge.

Narrating her ordeal to newsmen, the ex-NDDC boss thanked the governor for his intervention, saying Wike is a man of his word.

According to Ms. Nunnieh, the security operatives stormed her residence at about 4 a.m that day with the intent to whisk her away but she refused because they did not have a warrant.

Terrified, she then reached out to Governor Wike but was not able to get through the first time because his number was switched off.

“I tried to reach him but the phones were switched off, so I called some people and they said these people might not be real policemen.

“They said they (security operatives) came to take me away, I said for what? Do they have a warrant for arrest? They said no warrant of arrest, so I left it.

“About 6 a.m they broke the gate and later Senator Magnus Abe now called me that he had reached the Commissioner of Police who said he didn’t know anything about it (the arrest).

“So the CP called, I sent him my address, they told me the CP was downstairs but the CP was not downstairs, it was the Deputy Commissioner who was around; so I opened the door, they wanted to grab me, I now pushed back the door and locked it.

“I got through to my governor, they tried to break the back door, its a security door so they kept hitting for over one hour and they couldn’t get access.

“So my governor came, asked them for their warrant of arrest and why they did not invite me to the police, that I will come, instead of going to take a woman as a criminal.

“So, the governor took me in his car and here I am refuging in the Government House.

“I want to thank his excellency for keeping to his word that nothing should happen to the daughter of Rivers State,” Ms. Nunieh narrated.

Suspension Of NSITF Board: Ngige Insists On Acting Within Presidential Directives

The Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige

 

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, has maintained that he acted within presidential directives on the suspension of top management and executive committee members of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).

The Minister stated this in his submission at the Investigative hearing by the House of Representatives’ Ad Hoc Committee on the Arbitrary Breach of Presidential Directive on the Suspension of Management and Executive Members of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) and Other Government Agencies by Ministers.

Ngige stated that he did not go contrary to presidential directives, emphasising that the suspension also followed procedural compliance to the relevant authorities (Constitution, Public Service Rules, NSITF Act, Presidential Directives).

The Minister restated that the suspension of the officials was hinged on issues bordering on Financial and Procurement infractions, as well as acts of serious of misconduct.

He disclosed that the Auditor General’s Specific Periodic Report check into the affairs of the organisation from 2013 to early 2018 showed evidence of infractions to Financial Regulations and Procurement Act involving the past Acting Managing Director, as well as the new Managing Director/Chief Executive and Executive Directors and some General Managers.

Ngige said that in the face of such observed infractions, and acting in the best interest of the nation, he made recommendations and got Mr President’s approval for the suspension of the affected personnel.

“By letter dated 30th June 2020, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) conveyed Mr President’s approval to all the recommendations submitted by my office in respect of issues bordering on the Financial and Procurement infractions and acts of serious of misconduct and referred to the guidance on implementation to a letter from the Chief of Staff to the President (CoSP) and further requested the Minister to avail his office with records of the implementation of Mr. President’s approval, especially in the areas of personnel charges.”

He pointed out that upon the suspension, a Presidential Joint Board Committee, comprising members from the office of Head of Service (OHOSF), Auditor General of the Federation (AuGF), Accountant General of the Federation (AcGF) and Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, with Chairman NSITF Board Audit Committee as Chair, was inaugurated to look into the breaches and issues of serious misconduct involving those officials.

Ngige also stated that staff members in the General Manager cadre, heading departments and who were preliminarily established to have a case to answer were also suspended.

The Minister noted that although, as the supervising Minister to the Agency, he did not need to wait for a petition from the Management Board of the Fund before he could act, he, however, had letters by the Chairman of the Board “on issues of approvals for funds above his threshold and complaints about non-compliance with due procurement processes.”

According to him, “the Finance and Account Department of the Ministry had countlessly informed the NSITF MD about flouting of Section 30 of the Financial Regulations which stipulates that Parastatals, whether Treasury funded or self-funding shall give an income v expenditure to the Supervising Ministry monthly.”

Ngige further said that since the NSITF had also failed to submit Annual Audited Accounts to the Minister to assist in preparing annual reports to Mr President.

He noted that the infractions, involving lots of procurement anomalies, the irregular award of contracts, and irregular payments involving huge amounts of money include: Foreign International Travels without approvals; Non-submission of Internal Audit reports to the office of the Auditor General of the Federation; Contract payment without evidence of performance; Unauthorized Foreign Travels – sponsorship of Executive Directors and their spouses to overseas countries for Annual Leave; Procurement – conversion of contract from the supply of toners to the supply of Toyota Prado Jeep without approval; and Irregular payment on QS Consultancy fees for claims evaluations/Failed Public-Private Partnership (PPP) M/S D&B Ltd, among other infractions to Financial Regulation and Procurement Act.

The Minister emphasised that in the exercise of his supervisory function, he also took cognizance of SGF Circular REF:SGF/OP/1.S.3/T/163 dated 19 May 2020, as ” even after the Presidential assent for disciplinary action against the MD and these Officers for these financial breaches, the Chief of Staff to the President (CoSP) still communicated the SGF because of the new circular and the SGF still subjected the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment to submit the prima facie infractions and serious misconduct in view of circular above.

The Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment complied and submitted the copy of the report and alleged gross misconduct again by letter dated 23 June 2020.”

The Minister noted that the act of suspension is not dismissal, but a stage in disciplinary procedures in the Public Service, emphasising that the Presidential Joint Board Committee was set up to afford the suspended officials the opportunity to clear themselves.

He pointed out that upon the suspension, a Presidential Joint Board Committee, comprising members from the office of Head of Service (OHOSF), Auditor General of the Federation (AuGF), Accountant General of the Federation (AcGF) and Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, with Chairman NSITF Board Audit Committee as Chair, was inaugurated to look into the breaches and issues of serious misconduct involving those officials.

Ngige also stated that staff members in the General Manager cadre, heading departments and who were preliminarily established to have case to answer were also suspended.

The Minister noted that although, as the supervising Minister to the Agency, he did not need to wait for a petition from the Management Board of the Fund before he could act, he, however, had letters by the Chairman of the Board “on issues of approvals for funds above his threshold and complaints about non-compliance with due procurement processes.”

According to him, “the Finance and Account Department of the Ministry had countlessly informed the NSITF MD about flouting of Section 30 of the Financial Regulations which stipulates that Parastatals, whether Treasury funded or self-funding shall give an income v expenditure to the Supervising Ministry monthly.”

Ngige further said that since the NSITF had also failed to submit Annual Audited Accounts to the Minister to assist in preparing annual reports to Mr President.

He noted that the infractions, involving lots of procurement anomalies, the irregular award of contracts, and irregular payments involving huge amounts of money include: Foreign International Travels without approvals; Non-submission of Internal Audit reports to the office of the Auditor General of the Federation; Contract payment without evidence of performance; Unauthorized Foreign Travels – sponsorship of Executive Directors and their spouses to overseas countries for Annual Leave; Procurement – conversion of contract from the supply of toners to the supply of Toyota Prado Jeep without approval; and Irregular payment on QS Consultancy fees for claims evaluations/Failed Public-Private Partnership (PPP) M/S D&B Ltd, among other infractions to Financial Regulation and Procurement Act.

The Minister emphasised that in the exercise of his supervisory function, he also took cognizance of SGF Circular REF:SGF/OP/1.S.3/T/163 dated 19 May 2020, as ” even after the Presidential assent for disciplinary action against the MD and these Officers for these financial breaches, the Chief of Staff to the President (CoSP) still communicated the SGF because of the new circular and the SGF still subjected the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment to submit the prima facie infractions and serious misconduct in view of circular above.

“The Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment complied and submitted the copy of the report and alleged gross misconduct again by letter dated 23 June 2020.”

The Minister noted that the act of suspension is not dismissal, but a stage in disciplinary procedures in the Public Service, emphasising that the Presidential Joint Board Committee was set up to afford the suspended officials the opportunity to clear themselves.

Ngige Threatens Legal Action Against Faleke Over NSITF Comments

Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige and James Faleke

 

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, has threatened legal action against a member of the House of Representatives, James Faleke.

Mr Ngige issued the threat on Tuesday during the hearing of the Adhoc Committee of the House which is investigating an alleged breach of a presidential directive by him.

The Labour Minister is alleged to have suspended top management and executive committee members of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund, (NSITF), although the presidential directive bars ministers from sacking heads of agencies.

The minister had asked Mr Faleke to recuse himself from the hearing since he had already passed judgement on him (Ngige) through his statements on the floor of the House when the motion for the investigation was raised on July 7, 2020.

Mr. Faleke in his response accused Ngige of passing judgment on the board of the NSITF without proper investigation, a statement which infuriated Mr. Ngige who vowed to go to court.

Mr. Faleke had accused Ngige of hijacking the budget of the NSITF and removing the board to cover his tracks.

James Faleke has argued that the Minister of Labour and Employment did not follow due process in suspending members of the NSITF Board

 

 

The minister defended his decision to suspend the board, informing the committee that it was based on a report from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission which uncovered financial fraud in the NSITF.

Dr Ngige added that the suspension of the board was approved by the President.

A lawmaker, Sada Soli, however, questioned the authenticity of the document of approval as claimed by the minister.

Soli out that there were misspelled words and imposition in the photocopy which the minister presented.

He also questioned why the chairman of the board was not affected by the suspension.

The lawmakers are accusing Ngige of nepotism, saying he gave employment to 97 indigenes of Anambra State while the entire North-East got 86.

In his response to the letter’s grammar composition, Ngige said he corrects spelling mistakes daily and the errors in the letter from the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, authorizing the suspension, are not major.

He also presented the original document, suggesting that the photocopy is authentic.

However, he refused to submit the letter to the committee, promising to make it available later.

Meanwhile, a legal adviser in the OSGF, Emmanuel Akisa, confirmed that the letter from the minister requesting the suspension was received.

He also added that the OSGF received a communication from the President directing the immediate suspension of the NSITF management team, pending the outcome of investigations into their actions.

Suspension Of NSITF Boss, 11 Others

On July 2, 2020, the Head of Press and Public Relations at the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Charles Akpan, revealed that the President had approved the immediate, compulsory, and indefinite suspension of Mr Adebayo Somefun, the Managing Director and Chief Executive of the NSITF.

In a statement, Mr Akpan said the President also okayed the suspension of 11 top officials of the agency.

Some members of the House’s Adhoc Committee do not believe that the President Buhari (pictured) okayed the suspensions at NSITF.

 

Those suspended are Jasper Azuatalam (Executive Director, Finance and Investment), Olukemi Nelson (Executive Director, Operations), and Tijani Sulaiman (Executive Director, Administration).

Others are Olusegun Bashorun (General Manager, Administration/Human Resources/Maintenance), Lawan Tahir (General Manager, Finance), Chris Esedebe (General Manager, Claims and Compensation), Olodotun Adegbite (Deputy General Manager, Investment and Treasury Management), and Emmanuel Sike (Deputy General Manager, Finance and Accounts).

Also affected by the suspension are Olutoyin Arokoyo (Deputy General Manager/Acting Head, Legal), Dorathy Tukura (Deputy General Manager, Administration), and Victoria Ayantuga (Assistant General Manager, Internal Audit).

Buhari Suspends NSITF Boss, 11 Top Officials

A file photo of President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the immediate, compulsory, and indefinite suspension of Mr Adebayo Somefun, the Managing Director and Chief Executive of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).

A statement on Thursday from the Head of Press and Public Relations at the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Charles Akpan, revealed that the President also suspended 11 top officials of the agency.

They include Jasper Azuatalam (Executive Director, Finance and Investment), Olukemi Nelson (Executive Director, Operations), and Tijani Sulaiman (Executive Director, Administration).

Others are Olusegun Bashorun (General Manager, Administration/Human Resources/Maintenance), Lawan Tahir (General Manager, Finance), Chris Esedebe (General Manager, Claims and Compensation), Olodotun Adegbite (Deputy General Manager, Investment and Treasury Management), and Emmanuel Sike (Deputy General Manager, Finance and Accounts).

Also affected by the suspension are Olutoyin Arokoyo (Deputy General Manager/Acting Head, Legal), Dorathy Tukura (Deputy General Manager, Administration), and Victoria Ayantuga (Assistant General Manager, Internal Audit).

According to the statement, their suspension from office arose from the preliminarily established prima facie infractions on the extant Financial Regulations and Procurement Act, and other acts of gross misconduct.

It said, “During the period of their suspension, the suspended officers are to face a Joint Board and Audit Investigative Panel that has been set up to look into the financial and procurement breaches, as well as gross misconduct in the NSITF for periods of 2016 to date, which have invariably put the Contributions of stakeholders in a perilous state.

“The affected officers have also been directed to hand over to the most senior officers in their respective departments.

“The Executive Directors are, therefore, to hand over to the most senior general managers, while the managing director will hand over to the most senior officer in the Fund.”

Thereafter, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, directed the Regional General Manager in charge of the Ibadan Region, Temitope Akinwale, to take charge as General Manager in charge of Finance and to concurrently oversee the Office of the Executive Director of Finance and Investment as the acting Executive Director.

He also asked the Regional General Manager in charge of Port Harcourt Region, Maureen Allagoa, to move to NSITF Headquarters as General Manager in charge of Administration, Human Resources and Maintenance, and to concurrently oversee the Office of the Executive Director of Administration as acting Executive Director.

Ngige also directed the General Manager of Administration and Maintenance, Baba Kabir, to move to the Enforcement Department while concurrently overseeing the office of the Executive Director of Operations in an acting capacity.

He asked the General Manager of the Health, Safety and Environment Department, Dr Kelly Nwagha, to assume the position of acting Managing Director/Chief Executive, as the most senior General Manager in the Fund.

“All the appointments are with effect from Monday, July 6, 2020, and will last until further notice.

“The Honourable Minister has also charged the Chairman of the Board, Mr Austin Isire, FCA; FCII; to take charge, in order to ensure that the Investigative Panel commences work as soon as possible and for the Board to facilitate the smooth running of the Fund by creating the enabling environment and all the necessary staff adjustments and movements, in order to guarantee that services by staff to the Contributors do not in any way suffer,” the statement added.

NSITF Board: NLC President Is Being Economical With The Truth – Ngige

Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige.

 

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Mr Chris Ngige, says the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Ayuba Wabba is being economical with the truth.

He stated this on Tuesday while appearing on a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.

“The NLC President is being economical with the truth. I told them that this name you people have inserted there is an invalid nomination.

“It was on that basis that I asked Mr Kokori to give me his Curriculum Vita (CV). As a matter of fact, this NLC President came to my office and lied to me that the Vice President asked them to bring a nomination.

“And I told him, it cannot stand. You know what the Act says. Based on that, I wrote to the Vice President pointing out that I should nominate. As at two weeks ago, the Vice President said he didn’t see them,” he said.

READ ALSO: Ngige, Labour Trade Blames Over NSITF Board Inauguration

But reacting, the NLC President faulted the Minister for the delay in the constitution of the board, blaming the action on an alleged lack of communication between the Federal Government and the labour.

While maintaining that Kokori was not recommended by the labour, he insisted that his appointment was based on a recommendation from the Delta State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) being a member.

He said: “The issue of Kokori’s appointment was not the issue mainly, it was inaugurating the board. So clearly speaking, there is a breakdown in communication. That communication which was made public to Nigerians only came at the eve of the inauguration two days ago.

“We are social partners in this particular issue. It’s a labour market institution. We shouldn’t wait until the 11th hour. Labour should have been informed. Even him Kokori should have been informed.

“Even now, there is no formal communication to him. After the Minister invited him to his house and had dinner to say you have been appointed, there is no formal communication to labour.

When asked when the implementation of the new national minimum wage would commence, the Minister said he doesn’t know.

He, however, explained that the Federal Government would constitute an Implementation Committee comprising of seven ministers and the Salaries and Wages Commission.

“An implementation committee on the government sides would be inaugurated today in the office of the Attorney General of the Federation.

“There are about seven ministers who are there. The head of the Civil Service of the Federation will chair the committee, the Chairman, Salaries Income and Wages Commission will be the secretary and we will have the secretariat,” he said.

Ngige’s comment follows the faceoff between himself and the NLC over the constitution and inauguration of the board for the National Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).

Members of the Labour Union have been aggrieved following the replacing of Frank Kokori as the Chair of NSITF Board with Enejamo-Isire and his subsequent reappointment as the chair the board of Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies.

Ngige Inaugurates New NSITF Board After Two-Year Delay

The new board of National Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) during their inauguration on Monday, May 13, 2019.

 

The minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, has inaugurated the new National Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) board after a two-year delay.

Ngige while inaugurating the new board in Abuja, on Monday, said that the two-year delay in the inauguration is as a result of massive looting in the organisation between 2012 and 2015.

According to the minister, between that period, the sum of N62.5 billion was contributed out of which N48 billion was unaccounted for and N25 billion was withdrawn without vouchers.

The new board is to be chaired by Austin Enejomo-Isire.

READ ALSO: NLC Vs Ngige: Presidency Breaks Silence On Rift Over NSITF

The past board members are currently being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Ngige, however, charged the new board to resist the temptation of fixing special allowances for themselves urging them to execute their duties fairly and transparently.

He also advised them to focus on staff welfare, not personal enrichment.

Dr Chris Ngige while inaugurating the new board of National Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) on Monday, May 13, 2019.

 

The inauguration of the new board comes a day after the Presidency said Ngige, had the backing of President Muhammadu Buhari in all the actions he (Ngige) had taken concerning the NSITF.

The Presidency in a statement on Sunday by Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said, “All actions taken by the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment toward the resuscitation and repositioning of this ailing agency (NSITF), including the Administrative Panel of Inquiry into the affairs of the NSITF and the suspension of the inauguration of the board in 2018 were part of the special work plan approved for the minister by Mr President.

“The appointment of the chairman of this board, which is in consonance with Section 4(a) of the NSITF Act CAP N88 of 2004, was also approved by Mr President since 23rd July, 2018, on the recommendation of the minister. Mr Austin Enejamo-Isire, a chartered accountant; Fellow, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and a renowned insurance expert; senior member, Chartered Institute of Insurance of Nigeria; Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria; and Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria was approved by Mr President for this position,” the statement read in part.

There had been controversy over the inauguration of the NSITF board after Ngige postponed the board’s inauguration on the day it was scheduled to hold on April 18, 2019.

Enejomo-Isire Emerges New NSITF Chairman

Austin Enejomo-Isire

 

Mr Austin Enejomo-Isire has emerged as the new Chairman of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) board.

His appointment was announced in Abuja, on Monday, at the inauguration of the new NSITF board by the minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige.

Enejamo-Isire is being appointed to “replace” Chief Frank Kokori as the chair of the board of the NSITF.

Kokori has subsequently been appointed to chair the board of Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies.

Ngige while inaugurating the new board said that the delay in the inauguration is as a result of massive looting in the organisation between 2012 and 2015.

READ ALSO: TUC Members Picket TCN Offices, Demand Removal Of MD

According to the minister, between that period, the sum of N62.5 billion was contributed out of which N48 billion was unaccounted for and N25 billion was withdrawn without vouchers.

The past board members are currently being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The minister, therefore, advised the new board to resist the temptation of fixing special allowances for themselves urging them to execute their duties fairly and transparently.

He also advised them to focus on staff welfare, not personal enrichment.