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Buhari sacks NSITF management, reconstitutes board over N3.4bn fraud

The management of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) has been sacked by President Muhammadu Buhari over an alleged N3.4 billion fraud.

The minister of labour and employment, Chris Ngige inaugurated a newly reconstituted board on Tuesday in Abuja.

Adebayo Somefun, NSITF managing director, and members of past management were accused of spending the sum on “non-existent staff training”.

In a letter dated July 1, 2020, and addressed to Somefun, Ngige had said Buhari approved the suspension of the management.

However, the Somefun-led management rejected the suspension, saying Buhari did not give such directive — the NSITF officials also denied any wrongdoing.

Ngige later set up a committee to probe the management and it indicted Somefun and other top NSITF officials.

In a statement, Charles Akpan, deputy director of press and public relations, ministry of labour and employment, said Buhari approved the appointment of Akabogu Michael as the new managing director.

“Messrs. Bayo Somefun, Jasper Azuatalam, Tijani Sulaiman and Mrs. Olukemi Nelson were therefore relieved of their appointments with effect from 1st July, 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,” the statement reads.

“The MD and the three Executive Directors are to refund the NSITF Treasury the total sum of One Hundred and Eighty One Million, Fifty Six Thousand Naira (N181,056,000) being illegal over payments 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).

“Other nine top management staff whose appointments were terminated for various infractions and who have also benefited from the excess remuneration are to refund such overpayments to the Panel.”

Akpan added that any official who fails to make refund will be handed over to the anti-graft agencies.

Speaking at the inauguration of the new board on Tuesday, Ngige said there is a paradigm shift in the structural composition of the new management which must meet the huge expectations of positive shift in goal delivery.

“We must live down the past and lead a rewarding change in the fortunes of the NSITF. The years of the locust are now over. You can’t afford to take us back to Egypt. The era of looting of N48 billion without a single voucher is gone for good,” NAN quoted the minister as saying.

“The NSITF must be revitalised and repositioned to fulfil its mandate in accordance with the establishing Act.

”Instructively therefore, the new management should not indulge in the sins of the past, and must adhere to the statutory conditions of service and remunerations for board members approved by the minister as enshrined in the NSITF Act.”

According to Ngige, the new nominal directors with the remaining directors and chairman will serve out the remaining period of their institutional representation ending May 2023.

Those inaugurated were Akabogu Michael, managing director/chief executive; Temitope Akinwale, executive director, finance and investment, and Maureen Allagoa as executive director, administration.

Other nominal directors on the board are Lauretta Adogu, director, department of occupational safety and health, ministry of labour and employment; and Najeem Yasin, deputy president, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) representative.

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