An investigative committee setup to look into the financial state of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) has uncovered about N62.555 billion fraud in the agency. While submitting the report to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, the 9-member panel said the money was spent without proper accounting procedures.
Recall that in November 23, 2017, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had arraigned Uma Munir Abubakar, the former Managing Director of NSITF, Henry Ekhasomi Sambo, Adebayo Adebowale Aderibigbe, Chief Richard U. Uche and Aderemi Adegboyega before Justice Silvanus Orji of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, sitting in Apo, Abuja, on a 26-count charge bordering on conspiracy, abuse of office and illegal diversion of public funds.
According to the EFCC, the aforementioned were arraigned when a whistle-blower hinted the commission, accusing Abubakar and other, some of whom were former board members and current staff of NSITF, of leveraging on their positions to divert funds amounting to billions of Naira.
It was revealed that between 2012 and 2015, the accused received kickbacks in dollars and conspired to divert about N18 billion, being contribution from the Federal Government as take-off grants and Employees Compensation Scheme (ECS) for Ministries, Departments and agencies (MDAs). The money, was however, said to have been diverted into personal accounts through an e-payments mandate.
In a similar vein, the EFCC grilled and detained a former Chairman of the Fund, Dr. Ngozi Olojeme, for allegedly diverting $48,485,127 from the agency’s accounts. Olojeme who was declared wanted in 2017.
The Minister of Labour and Employment early this year, confirmed the suspension of no fewer than 6 top officials of the NSITF. While inaugurating the investigative committee in Abuja, Ngige announced a 30-day compulsory leave for the staff members of the agency including the General Manager, Legal, Adebayo Aderibigbe; Deputy General Manager, Finance, Henry Ekhasomi; General Manager, Social Security, Ishmael Agaka; DGM, Internal Audit, Zwalda Ponkap; GM, Information, Catherine Ugbe, and GM, Compensation, Dr. Kelly Nwagha.
The social insurance scheme is designed by the Nigerian government to compensate employees who suffer from accidents and natural diseases in the course of duty. This is programmed to be achieved by making deduction of 1% from all civil servants and private sector employees’ salaries who enrolled in the scheme.