The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, has accused the suspended management of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) of misappropriating N48 billion.
Ngige made the allegation while appearing in an investigative hearing at the House of Representatives over the alleged illegal suspension of the management of the agency.
According to a report from News Agency of Nigeria, the minister claimed that the management withdrew the amount through fake contracts, proceeds of which were diverted into private pockets.
During the appearance, he pointed out that there were also irregular payments of salaries and allowances of N10 million, which were not in line with the condition of service of the organization or any reference to the Office of the Minister.
He also claimed that the suspended management while on leave, travelled outside the country through first class with their spouses, and paid themselves N9.8 million each without the approval of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
Going further, Ngige accused them of engaging the services of legal practitioners at the sum of N180 million without the approval of the Attorney-General of the Federation. He added that they spent N146 million on vehicles, and on May 31, 2020, awarded 30 contracts worth N332 billion, which were split into smaller components of N49 million.
He disclosed that the contract splitting was to enable the transactions fall within the threshold allowed by law for the NSITF management to award contracts.
Ngige stated that the suspended NSITF management spent N570 million on health insurance outside the National Health Insurance Scheme.
He added that since 2012, the NSITF had not submitted records of its audited accounts to the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation, in line with the extant laws.
It was noted that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had since dragged the NSITF management to court on corruption charges.
On the alleged illegal suspension of the NSITF management, Ngige argued that their suspension went through the laid down procedure and was approved by President Muhammad Buhari, following his recommendation.
However, when he was requested to make available the documentary evidence of the presidential approval, the minister only showed a letter to the lawmakers, but refused to tender it as evidence.
Ngige told the lawmakers that he would consult with the President before tendering the letter approving the suspension.
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Nairametrics had about 3 weeks ago reported the suspension of the Managing Director, Executive Director and some other top management of NSITF over corruption and financial recklessness allegations. The Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, said that their suspension became imperative after preliminary investigation established prima facie infractions on the extant financial regulations and procurement act and other acts of gross misconduct.
However, the suspended management denied any wrong doing while describing their suspension as illegal. They insisted that all contracts, trainings and rehabilitation jobs carried out were done with the approval of the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige and the National Assembly.