Saturday, Jun 2021

President Muhammadu Buhari has sacked the embattled Managing Director of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund, NSITF, Mr Bayo Somefun, three executive directors and other management staff. This is just as he approved the appointment of Dr Michael Akabogu as the new Managing Director of the Fund.

In a statement issued on Monday morning by the Deputy Director/Head, Press and Public Relations of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Charles Akpan, the President also ordered that Somefun and his sacked Executive Directors are to refund to the treasury of the Fund a total of N181, 056 million being alleged illegal over payments in salaries and allowances.An ally of the former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and a former Zonal Women Leader in the South-West, Chief Kemi Nelson, is one of the Fund’s executive director’s relieved of their positions and asked to make refunds to the NSITF coffers.

The illegal allowances were for overseas travels, leave allowances for self and spouses in overseas, house allowance, DSTV and club registration and extraneous allowances not approved by the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC).

The statement read in part, “President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the reconstitution of the NSITF Management Board. This followed the approval of the recommendations in the Report of the Presidential Joint Board and Audit Investigation Panel set up by the President in July 2020 to investigate the infractions of the Public Procurement Act, 2007, and the Financial Regulations (FR) in the NSITF.

These financial infractions and other serious prima facial established malfeasance had resulted in the President approving the setting up of the Panel and the subsequent suspension from Office of the Managing Director (MD) and Chief Executive, and the three (3) Executive Directors respectively of Finance and Investment, Operations, and Administration and Human Resources.

“Nine (9) other top Management Officers in the General Manager Cadre were also suspended with the MD and the three (3) Executive Directors on the recommendations of the Honourable Minister of Labour & Employment.

“In approving the implementation of the recommendations in the Panel’s report, the President specifically approved:

“The removal from Office of the MD/CE and the three (3) Executive Directors and their immediate replacement from the pool of General Managers of the NSITF and if necessary sourcing of capable hands from the sister like corporate organizations to uplift performance in the NSITF.

“Messrs. Bayo Some fun, Jasper Azuatalam, Tijani Sulaiman and Mrs Olukemi Nelson were therefore relieved of their appointments with effect from 1st July 2020.

Also relieved of their appointments were the nine (9) top Management Officers on suspension with the MD and EDs who had their appointments terminated compulsorily with some to be retired after demotion in ranks from their present Ranks as recommended by the Panel.

“The MD and the three (3) Executive Directors are to refund the NSITF Treasury the total sum of One Hundred and Eighty-One Million, Fifty-Six Thousand Naira (N181, 056,000) being illegal overpayments in salaries, allowances such as overseas travels, leave allowances for self and spouses in overseas, house allowance, DSTV and club registration and extraneous allowances not approved by the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC)

The President also approved that erring companies and persons who default/neglect/refuse to make refunds of illegal monies paid to them will be sent to Anti-Graft Agencies (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission – EFCC and Independent Corrupt Practices Commission – ICPC) by the Minister of Labour and Employment for further necessary action.

Aside from specific removals and replacements, the President also ordered a thorough overhaul of the Fund, just as he approved and directed that the Head of Service of the Federation terminate the appointment and dismiss the erstwhile Head of Procurement Department Engr. Abdulrasheed Lawal from the Public Service with effect from the date of suspension.

Recall that upon the leadership crisis that rocked the Fund, (Mrs) Nelson wrote the President in July 2020,calling for independent investigation of allegations levelled against the management by the supervising ministry.

In a letter sent to the President on July 9th, the former commissioner in Lagos state government described the allegations as unfounded, positing that an independent review by the President will clear the air and establish the truth of the case.

The former ED noted then that every investigation must comply with the process, faulting the alleged probe of the executive management as lacking in transparency amd fairness.

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