Senate summons NSITF MD over alleged diversion of N61.1bn

The Senate Committee on Public Accounts has summoned the Managing Director of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), Dr Michael Akabogu, to appear before it on Tuesday.

Dr Akabogu is expected to offer explanations over alleged diversion and financial mismanagement of N61.1bn.

The Senate Committee on PAC led by Senator Mathew Urhoghide investigation is premised on the 2018 Auditor-General Report which indicted the management of the agency of financial recklessness.

The Auditor’s General report had indicted the board of the NSITF of alleged diversion of N5.5 billion from the agency account.

In another query, NSTIF was indicted for payment of N38.2 billion as personnel cost from 2012 till 2017 which was not approved by the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission while in another payment, about N17.1 billion was allegedly transferred to certain individuals and companies.

The query 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.

“Risk Implementation of unapproved salary structure may result in wastage of public funds, as remuneration may be higher than the productivity level of staff.”

The committee recommended that “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.”

In another query which reads, “audit of the fund’s bank statements for the period under review revealed that contributions received from Federal Government in 2014, amounting to N5,500,000,000.00 were diverted to a bank, instead of an account domiciled in another bank 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; B. The new account was opened specifically for this purpose as seen in the bank statements where the first tranche of N 2,750,000,000.00 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, the audit cannot accept such transactions without necessary evidence as legitimate charges against public funds.”

The third query noted that NSTIF’s statements of account in two banks between January 1, 2013, to December 20, 2013, and between January 7, 2013, to February 28, 2013, with “amounts totalling N 17,158,883,034.69 were transferred to some persons and companies from these accounts.”

It added that “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.”

Senator Uroghide further revealed that the agency has over 50 queries to respond to before the committee which he noted was the highest in the 2018 Auditor’s General Report.

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