The Senate has summoned the former Managing Directors of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund over missing of some financial documents in the agency.
The former Managing Directors of NSTIF that are expected to appear before the Senate Public Accounts Committee are Alhaji Umar Munir Abubakar, Adebayo Somefun and former Chairman of the agency, Ngozi Olejeme.
The Committee chaired by Senator Mathew Urhoghide decided to invite the former Managing Directors following the failure of the officials of the agency to respond to the queries of the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation over financial infractions in the NSTIF.
Out of 50 queries of the Auditor General of the Federation, the Committee was able to establish that N84 billion was misappropriated by the officials of the agency.
At the resumption of the investigation on the Auditor General queries, the agency was unable to present any financial documents relating to the issue raised by the Committee.
The Executive Director Finance and Investment of the agency, Caroline Akinwale specifically told the lawmakers that there is no available documents about the transactions in question. She disclosed that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had taken some of the former Managing Directors involved in the financial infractions to court.
The Chairman however directed the agency to present the documents in its possession and the issue it currently has with the anti-graft agency.
He also ordered that invitations should be sent to the former Managing Directors to come and give account of what transpired under their administrations.
He said, “We can no longer take excuse that there is no record for the mentioned financial transactions, go back to your office and look for it and we are also inviting the former Managing Directors of the NSTIF. They are to appear before us on Tuesday.”
The Chairman had said at the end of first day of investigative hearing, 12 out of 50 queries investigated so far by the Committee, “N84 billion was misappropriated, just unfortunate in the spate of four years . They depleted our resources, just few human beings who are mindless.”
He added that it is unfortunate that the management of NSTIF and the board colluded between 2012-2017.
” They are all guilty, they are implicated, they stole the place dry. The agency is most defiant and most notorious, ” he submitted.
One of the queries reads,” Audit observed that the Fund had been implementing a salary structure that is not approved by the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission. As a result, irregular payment of N 38,219,919,530.32 by way of personnel cost was made to the staff of the Fund from 2012 to 2017.
“Implementation of unapproved salary structure may result in wastage of public funds, as remuneration may be higher than the productivity level of staff. Recommendation:”The Managing Director is required to provide the approval of the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission for the implementation of the Fund’s salaries structure”
But the Managing Director of NSTIF, Dr.Michael Akabogu had claimed that the amount was approved through a letter dated 4th July , 2019 .
However, when the Committee looked at the letter from National Salaries , Incomes and Wages Commission on the illegal salary at the commission, it was observed the letter was written five years after the Commission started paying the salaries.
The Committee had further discovered in the letter from National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission that an objection was raised about the payment of unapproved salaries by the commission.
The letter dated July 4, 2019, reads in part, “however, the following anomalies are observed in the consolidated salary structure: are General Manager and Deputy General Manager are both places on GL17 respectively and One GL17, (General Manager) salary grade has 8 steps while another GL(Deputy General Manager) and GL 16 salary grades have 5 steps each.
“The Fund is, therefore, advised to arrange a meeting of the fund and its supervising Ministry and this Commission to rectify these anomalies before the next promotion exercise in the agency.”
In another query, it reads, “Audit of the Fund’s bank statements for the period under review revealed that contributions received from Federal Government in 2014, amounting to N 5,500,000,000.00 were diverted to a Zenith Bank account number 1013938003, instead of the Skye Bank account number 1790122304 into which other contributions were paid, without providing any authority or any form of explanation for such diversion.
“Audit further observed the following: A. The bank account was opened without the approval of the Accountant-General of the Federation, as no such approval was presented for audit.
“The new account was opened specifically for this purpose as seen in the bank statements where a first tranche of N2,750,000,000.00 was used in opening the account on the 29th of August 2014.
“Transfers were further made from the account to third parties, individuals and other NSITF accounts without payment vouchers and other supporting documents to authenticate such transfers.
“This puts doubt in the genuineness of all the transactions in the bank account. Consequently, audit cannot accept such transactions without necessary evidence as legitimate charges against public funds. “
The third query reads, “Audit observed from the Fund’s Statements of Account No. 1750011691 with Skye bank plc, for the period 1st January, 2013 to 20th December, 2013, and Statements of Account No.2001754610 with First Bank Plc for the period 7th January, 2013 to 28th February, 2013, that amounts totalling N17,158,883,034.69 were transferred to some persons and companies from these accounts.
“However, payment vouchers relating to the transfers together with their supporting documents were not provided for audit. Consequently, the purpose(s) for the transfers could not be authenticated.”