THE President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has approved the sacking of the top management staff of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund over alleged N3.4bn fraud.
The NSITF Managing Director and Chief Executive, Bayo Somefun, and the Executive Directors in charge of Finance, Jasper Azuatalam; Investment, Operations, and Administration, Tijani Sulaiman and Human Resources, Mrs Olukemi Nelson, were also relieved of their positions.
Also dismissed were the nine top management officers hitherto on suspension alongside the MD and EDs.
The decision, which took effect from July 1, 2020, was sequel to 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 in the NSITF.
This was contained in a statement on Monday by the Ministry of Labour and Employment spokesman, Mr Charles Akpan.
It disclosed that the officials were sacked on the recommendations of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige.
The MD of NSITF and its management staff were said to have lavished N3.4bn on non-existent staff training split into about 196 different consultancy contracts in order to evade the ministerial tender’s board and Federal Executive Council approvals.
The statement said, “In approving the implementation of the recommendations in the panel report, the President specifically approved the removal from office of the MD/CE and the three Executive Directors and their immediate replacement from the pool of General Managers of the NSITF and if necessary, sourcing of capable hands from sister corporate organisations to uplift performance in the NSITF.
“Messrs Bayo Somefun, 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 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 panel further recommended that Somefun and the three EDs should refund to the NSITF treasury N181.056m being illegal overpayments in salaries, allowances 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.
Other nine top management staff whose appointments were terminated for various infractions and who have also benefitted from the excess remuneration are also to refund such overpayments to the panel.
The staff are General Manager, Administration, Bashorun Olumide; General Manager, Finance and Accounts, Alhaji Lawan Tahir; General Manager, Claims and Compensation, Chris Esedebe; Deputy General Manager, Finance, Enyinanya Sike and Deputy General Manager, Training, Dorothay Tukura.
Others include Assistant General Manager, Audit, Victoria Ayantuga, Deputy General Manager, Investment, Dotun Adegbite, Deputy General Manager, Legal, Arokoyo Olutoye and Deputy General Manager, Procurement, AbdulRasheed Lawan.
The ministry said the procurement Department of the NSITF would be staffed with a new team of officers trained from the pool of existing staff and deployed in the department while all the staff that had been serving there from 2017 – 2020 would be removed and made to undergo disciplinary actions for offences ranging from injection of extraneous companies and projects after advertisement and bidding had been concluded, contract splitting, to initiation of procurement contract without budgetary allocation.
“All officers indicted are to receive the appropriate official sanction by the board. The President also approved and directed that the Head of Service of the Federation terminate the appointment and dismiss the erstwhile Head of Procurement Department, Abdulrasheed Lawal, from the public service with effect from the date of suspension,” the statement stated.
Meanwhile, in furtherance of the implementation of the panel report, the President has also approved the appointment of new management board for the NSITF.
They include Dr Michael Akabogu, General Manager, Risk Management Department of the NSITF, as the MD; Mrs Temitope Akinwale, ED, Finance and Investment Manager, Mrs Maureen Allagoa, ED, Administration and Mr Gana Modu, ED, Operations.
The nominal directors are Mrs Lauretta Adogu, Director, Department of Occupational Safety and Health, representing the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.