Termite Saga: Our Current Management Not Responsible For ‘Misappropriation’ Of N17bn, Says NSITF

The Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) says its current management has nothing to do with the alleged misappropriation of N17.15 billion.

Ijeoma Okoronkwo, general manager, corporate affairs department of NSITF, said this in a statement issued on Monday.

The senate committee on public accounts, on Friday, commenced an investigation into the alleged misappropriation of funds by the NSITF as contained in the auditor’s report.

But the agency’s management claimed that the payment vouchers used for the transactions under probe have been eaten up by termites.

Okoronkwo said the statement became necessary to forestall further wrong finger-pointing and mischief directed at the current management of the NSITF.

She said the alleged financial violations were committed under the management that ran the agency between 2012 and 2017.

According to her, the current management team of the NSITF has charted a new course with strategic reforms, strongly anchored on transparency and already producing positive results.

“It is overly important to inform the general public that what is under investigation are not new infractions but cumulative financial violations under the management that ran the agency between 2012 and 2017,” the statement reads.

“These infractions are not new. They have been the subject of a probe since the office of the auditor-general of the federation first raised the red flag in 2015.

“We make it clear therefore that the negative trails of these breaches have nothing to do with the present management beyond assisting the senate committee, carry out its oversight functions, knowing full well that government is a continuum.”

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Okoronkwo explained that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)had probed and taken the former chairman of the NSITF board and five other senior officials, including the managing director and three directors to court over some of the issues.

She said that huge sums of money, as well as property, were also recovered, while some of the indicted staff members were equally removed from the office.

“Indeed, when the Senate committee initiated this current probe, the managing director, Dr. Michael Akabogu set up an internal committee to retrieve from First Bank and Skye Bank respectively, detailed transactions involving the fund under the period in probe,” Okoronkwo said.

“The documents were subsequently submitted to the senate committee.”

“However, when the senate committee further called for the vouchers backing up the transactions, Dr. Akabogu requested that the former managing directors under whose tenures the transactions were made, be invited to provide further answers especially with regards to the vouchers.”

Okoronkwo said that the contents of the container where the payment vouchers used for the N17.15 billion transactions were allegedly kept have been damaged.

“The current management is not in possession of the vouchers and hence, informed the senate committee that the contents of the container in the premises of the fund, where the former managing directors allegedly left the vouchers have succumbed to the elements,” she explained.

“And that this can be substantiated from memos, hitherto written by the fund’s general services department on the state of the facility in question.”

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