The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige has revealed how suspended management of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) allegedly misappropriated N48 billion using fake contracts and other means.
Ngige made the revelation when he appeared at an investigative hearing at the House of Representatives on the alleged illegal suspension of the management of the agency.
He said part of the alleged misappropriated funds were withdrawn by the management of NSITF through fake contracts, proceeds of which were recycled into private pockets.
He added that NSITF management made irregular payments of salaries and allowances of N10 million, which he said were not in line with the condition of service of the organisation or any reference to the Office of the Minister.
Ngige further told Reps members investigating the matter that the suspended management of the agency went on leave abroad in first class with their spouses and paid themselves N9.8 million each without the approval of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
Another accusation he leveled against the management was that they engaged the services of legal practitioners at the sum of N180 million without the approval of the Attorney-General of the Federation.
He also accused them of spending N146 million on vehicles, and on May 31, 2020, awarded 30 contracts worth N332 billion, split into smaller components of N49 million each.
He explained that the suspended management split the contracts in order to ensure the transactions fall within the threshold allowed by law for the management to award.
Further listing how the suspended NSITF management misappropriated the money, Ngige said they spent N570 million on health insurance outside the National Health Insurance Scheme.
According to the minister, since 2012, the NSITF had refused to submit records of its audited accounts to the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation in line with the extant laws.
He added that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had since sued the NSITF management in court over corruption.
He argued that the suspension of NSITF was not illegal, noting that it was approved by President Muhammad Buhari, following his recommendation.
Meanwhile, Ngige was not able to tender documentary evidence of the presidential approval, when he was asked to do so by the lawmakers.
He only showed them a letter, which he did submit as evidence to them.
The minister said for him to tender the letter approving the suspension, he would have to consult with the president.
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