September 28, 2022

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The Senate Public Accounts Committee (SPAC) is investigating the current and previous management of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).

The committee stated that it discovered that the fund’s management failed to produce relevant documents to justify an alleged N17.158 billion expenditure in 2013.

According to the Nation, termites ate up some of the documents used to support the expenses.

The Office of the Auditor General of the Federation (OAuGF) had questioned the agency over the disbursed sums in its 2018 audit report, which is now being considered by the Senate panel chaired by Senator Matthew Urhoghide (Edo South).

The OAuGF stated in his report that the N17.158 billion represented the total amount of money transferred by the agency between January and December 2013 from its Skye and First Bank accounts into various untraceable accounts belonging to individuals and companies.

In its 2018 audit report, the OAuGF raised 50 different questions about the agency’s alleged misappropriation of funds.

The AuGF’s query reads: “Management of NSITF, as shown in statements of account number 1750011691 with Skye Bank Plc, for the period 1st January, 2013 to 20th December, 2013, and statements of account number 2001754610 with First Bank Plc for the period January 7, 2013 to February 28, 2013, transferred amounts totalling N17,158,883,034.69 to some persons and companies from these accounts.

“However, 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.

“These are in violation of Financial Regulation 601 which states that ‘all payment entries in the cashbook/accounts shall be vouched for on one of the prescribed treasury forms. Vouchers shall be made out in favour of the person or persons to whom the money is actually due’.

“Under no circumstances shall a cheque be raised, or cash paid for services for which a voucher has not been raised.”

Urhoghide, the Chairman of the Senate Committee, summoned and interviewed NSITF’s past and present management on where the alleged N17.158 billion was transferred between January and December 2013.

It was learned that no former management official could provide a satisfactory explanation for the alleged multiple transfers with the necessary documents.

Members of the agency’s management in charge told the committee in 2013 that they had left relevant cash vouchers pertaining to the transactions behind.

Dr. Michael Akabogu, the current NSITF Managing Director, was said to have claimed that no such documents were in the organization’s possession.

“The container the said documents were kept by past management has not only been beaten by rains over the years but even possibly been eaten up by termites.

“As directed by this committee, I told the past management officers on the need for them to help us out in answering this query with necessary documents which have not been made available for us,” Akabogu allegedly said.

Mallam Umar Munir Abubakar, the Managing Director of NSITF from 2010 to 2016, allegedly claimed that he was aware of the inquiry but had no explanations to offer because the audit was not carried out during his tenure.

However, his successor, Mr. Adebayo Somefun, who led the agency from May 2017 to July 2020, allegedly insisted on the ability of those in the agency’s account section to trace the documents.

However, the agency’s current General Manager Finance allegedly stated that the container in question had been locked up and abandoned in an isolated area within the organization’s Abuja premises.

In his ruling, Urhoghide expressed concern about the development and ordered both members of the NSITF’s past and present management to reappear before the panel on Thursday, September 22, 2022, with all necessary evidence regarding the transactions.

 

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