Ngige sets up panel to probe alleged N3.4bn NSITF fraud

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The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, on Thursday, inaugurated a Presidential Joint Board Audit Investigation Panel to probe alleged N3.4 billion financial infractions levelled against the suspended Managing Director of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund, Adebayo Somefun and three other directors.

The committee is chaired by Ibrahim Khaleel of the Nigeria Labour Congress and Chairman of the Audit Committee of the NSITF board.

The minister, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, William Alo, said the eight-member committee has three weeks to submit its report.

Somefun, three directors and 10 management staff were suspended by the minister over allegations of financial infractions and procurement breaches.

Speaking while inaugurating the panel in Abuja, the minister said the NSITF is a government-owned entity established to address the socio-economic needs of workers by providing compensation to insured employees who suffered from occupational diseases, sustained injuries or disability from accident or even death during or in the course of employment.

In order to discharge its mandate, he explained that the NSITF Act provides that employers of labour should make financial contributions to the Fund.

According to the minister, employers in both the private and public sectors of the formal economy and the NSITF were the statutory custodian of the funds.

Ngige noted, “It becomes very worrisome when there are issues surrounding and emanating from the management of these funds entrusted to NSITF, especially when seemingly done in transgression of extant rules, regulations and laws guiding due processes for the management of funds and general conduct/ethics in the public service.

“This becomes even more worrisome when preliminary investigations yield alarming results.”

Khaleel promised that the committee would carry out its duty “justly and with the fear of God that nobody will be cheated.”

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