President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the indefinite suspension of the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), Mr Adebayo Somefun and three Executive Directors of the Government agency over corruption allegations.
Also suspended are some other top management staff of the agency.
This was disclosed in a press statement by Charles Akpan of the Press and Public Relations of the ministry on behalf of the Minister for Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, on Thursday, July 2, 2020.
The suspended Executive Directors are Jasper Ikedi-Azuatalam, Executive Director (ED), Finance and Investment, Mrs Olukemi Nelson, ED, Operations and Alhaji Tijani Darazo Sulaiman, ED, Administration.
Also suspended are Mr Olusegun Olumide-Bashorun, General Manager, Administration/Human Resources/Maintenance, Mr Lawan Tahir, General Manager, Finance, Mr Chris Esedebe, General Manager, Claims and Compensation, Mr Olodotun Adegbite, Deputy General Manager, Investment and Treasury Management, and Mr Emmanuel Enyinnaya-Sike, Deputy General Manager, Finance and Accounts.
The press statement also mentioned Mrs Olutoyin Arokoyo, Deputy General Manager/Acting Head, Legal, Ms Dorathy Zajeme-Tukura, Deputy General Manager, Administration, and Mrs Victoria Ayantuga, Assistant General Manager, Internal Audit as part of the management team that was suspended.
The minister disclosed that the suspension of these officials became imperative after the preliminary investigation established prima facie infractions on the extant Financial Regulations and Procurement Act. and other acts of gross misconduct.
According to the statement, ‘’During the period of their suspension, the officers will face a Joint Board and Audit Investigative Panel that had been set up to look into the financial and procurement breaches, as well as gross misconduct in the NSITF from 2016 to date.
“The gross misconduct has invariably put the contributions of stakeholders in a perilous state. The affected officers have also been directed to hand over to the most senior officers in their respective departments.”
The statement also quoted the Minister, Chris Ngige, as directing the most senior General Manager, Dr Kelly Nwagha, to take over as the Acting Managing Director/Chief Executive with effect from Monday, July 6, 2020.
The Labour Minister also charged the Chairman of the Board, Mr Austin Enajemo Isire, to ensure that the investigative panel commenced work as soon as possible.
The NSITF has not been new to controversies as the Federal Government had alleged that N48 billion out of the N62 billion contributions to the agency was mismanaged by the former board and management between 2012 and 2015.
Some of the former officials of NSITF including the former Chairman, Ngozi Olejeme, were charged to court for corrupt practices and embezzlement by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Also, sometime last year, Ngige, had a running battle with the Nigerian Labour Congress over the non-inauguration of the board of the government agency.