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The Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund’s current and previous management have been criticized by the Senate for failing to provide sufficient justification for the ₦17.158 billion spent in 2013. Some of the necessary evidentiary documents were allegedly destroyed by termites.
According to the 2018 Audit Report, between the beginning of the year and the end of that same year, NSITF transferred a total of ₦17.158 billion from its Skye and First Bank accounts into various untraceable accounts belonging to individuals and companies.
The Senate Committee on Public Accounts is looking into the agency’s management’s alleged misappropriation of funds, which the Auditor General’s office had raised 50 separate questions about in their 2018 Audit report.
Specifically on the N17.158billion unsubstantiated transfers made by NSITF, the query reads, ” Management of NSITF as shown in statements of Account No. 1750011691 with Skye bank plc, for the period 1st January, 2013 to 20th December, 2013, and Statements of Account No.2001754610 with First Bank Plc for the period 7th January, 2013 to 28th February, 2013, transferred amounts totalling ₦17,158,883,034.69 to some persons and companies from these accounts.
“However, payment vouchers relating to the transfers together with their supporting documents were not provided for audit. Consequently, the purpose(s) for the transfers could not be authenticated.
“These are in violation of Financial rule 601 which states that ‘All payment entries in the cashbook/accounts shall be vouched for on one of the prescribed treasury forms. Vouchers shall be made out in favour of the person or persons to whom the money is actually due’.
“Under no circumstances shall a cheque be raised, or cash paid for services for which a voucher has not been raised”.
In sustaining or vacating the query, the Senate Committee headed by Senator Mathew Urhoghide ( PDP Edo South) interrogated NSITF’s past and present managements on where monies totalling ₦17.158billion were transferred to between January and December 2013 .
But neither of the managements could offer satisfactory explanations on the undocumented multiple transfers as those at the helm of affairs in 2013 told the committee that documents like vouchers were left behind by them while the present Managing Director of NSITF , Dr Michael Akabogu said they had no such documents.
“The Container the said documents were kept by past management has not only been beaten by rain over the years but even possibly being eaten up by termites.
“As directed by this committee , I told the past management officers on the need for them to help us out in answering this query with necessary documents which have not been made available for us,” he said.
However, in his submissions, the Managing Director of NSITF from 2010 to 2016, Mallam Umar Abubakar, said he was unaware of the query and have no explanations for it since the audit was not carried out during his tenure.
But his successor, Mr Adebayo Somefun who was head of the agency from May 2017 to July 2020, said those in the account section should be able to trace the documents which the current General Manager Finance alleged to have been locked up in an abandoned container within the premises of the Trust Fund in Abuja.
Irked by submissions of the past and present NSITF officials , the committee through its Chairman, Senator Urhoghide, ordered them to re-appear before the committee with all the requested evidential documents unfailingly on Thursday, September 22, 2022.
“This committee has given you people more than enough time to respond to queries slammed on NSITF in the 2018 Audit report by the office of Auditor General of the Federation.
“The queries are 50 in number ranging from one misappropriation to the other in billions of Naira. The one on ₦17.158billion multiple transfers carried out in 2013 has not been answered at all, not to talk of ₦5.5billion allegedly diverted into a commercial bank account without approval, ₦2.2billion unauthorised investment without adequate records, etc.
“These are completely unacceptable and the committee will make sure that these queries are sustained if required evidential documents on monies spent or misappropriated, are not provided,” he said .
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