The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, has inaugurated a Presidential Joint Board and Audit Investigation Panel to probe alleged N3.4 billion financial infractions levelled against suspended Managing Director of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), Adebayo Somefun, and three other directors.
The committee is chaired by Ibrahim Khaleel of the Nigeria Labour Congress and Chairman of the Audit Committee of the NSITF board.
The minister said this during the inauguration in Abuja on Thursday.
The minister, who was represented by Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, William Alo, said the eight-member committee has three weeks to submit its report.
Mr Ngige, on July 2, approved the immediate and indefinite suspension of the Managing Director/Chief Executive of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), Adebayo Somefun, and some members of his executive for allegedly lavishing N3.4bn on “non-existent” staff training split into about 196 different consultancy contracts in order to evade the Ministerial Tenders Board and Federal Executive Council approvals.
The suspension came after a month after the Secretary to the Government of the Federation’s (SGF) restrained cabinet ministers from removing heads of agencies and parastatals they supervise.
According to the minister, the NSITF is a government-owned human-centred entity which was established to address the socio-economic needs in the workplace by providing compensation to insured employees who suffer from occupational diseases, sustain injuries or disability from accident or even death during or in the course of employment.
“In order to discharge this very noble mandate, the NSITF enabling Act provides that employers of labour should make financial contributions to the Fund of the NSITF. This includes employers in both the private and public sectors of the formal economy and the NSITF is the statutory custodian of these funds,” he said.
He said it has become worrisome when preliminary investigations yield alarming results.
“It becomes very worrisome when there are issues surrounding and emanating from the management of these funds entrusted to NSITF especially when seemingly done in transgression of extant rules, regulations and laws guiding due processes for the management of funds and general conduct/ethics in the public service,” he said.
Also speaking, the chairman of the committee, Mr Khaleel, said the committee will do its duty “justly and with the fear of God that nobody will be cheated.”
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the Administrative Panel of Enquiry, which probed the N6.2 billion scam at the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) submitted its report to the labour minister.
The chairman of the panel, Ishaya Awotu, said that there were irregular allowances totalling N5.7 billion paid to staff and management.
“These allowances were paid without the approval of the National Salary, Incomes and Wages Commission,” he said