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N61.1bn alleged diversion: NSITF management appear in Senate today

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The management of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund is expected to appear before the Senate Public Accounts Committee today (Tuesday) to answer more questions on the query issued to it by the Auditor General for the Federation.
The SPAC is currently scrutinising the 2018 AuGF report, which indicted NSTIF management of allegedly diverting N61.1bn.
The AuGF’s query alleged that the NSTIF diverted N5.5bn from its account to Zenith Bank.
In another query, the NSTIF was alleged to have paid N38.2bn as personnel cost from 2012 to 2017 which was not approved by National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission.
The query further alleged that the agency transferred N17.1bn to some persons and companies from the same accounts.
The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, at the last sitting of the panel on Thursday, told the newly appointed Managing Director of the NSTIF, Dr Michael Akabogu, that the agency had over 50 queries to respond to before the committee.
“The NSTIF queries remained the highest in the 2018 AuGF report,” the senator said.

Akabogu, however, appealed to the committee to go through the report and ask him questions.
He said, “If there is any question I can’t respond to, the former managing director could be contacted.”
The query read, “Audit observed that the fund had been implementing a salary structure that is not approved by the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission.
“As a result, irregular payment of N38,219,919,530.32 by way of personnel cost was made to the staff of the fund from 2012 to 2017.
“Risk implementation of unapproved salary structure may result in wastage of public funds, as remuneration may be higher than the productivity level of staff.

“Recommendation: The Managing Director is required to provide the approval of the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission for the implementation of the fund’s salaries structure.”
Another query read, “Audit of the fund’s bank statements for the period under review revealed that contributions received from Federal Government in 2014, amounting to N 5,500,000,000.00 were diverted to a Zenith Bank account number 1013938003, instead of the Skye Bank account number 1790122304 into which other contributions were paid, without providing any authority or any form of explanation for such diversion.

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“Audit further observed the following: (A) The bank account was opened without the approval of the Accountant-General of the Federation, as no such approval was presented for audit.
“(B) The new account was opened specifically for this purpose as seen in the bank statements where a first tranche of N2,750,000,000.00 was used in opening the account on the 29th of August 2014.
“Transfers were further made from the account to third parties, individuals and other NSITF accounts without payment vouchers and other supporting documents to authenticate such transfers.
“This puts doubt in the genuineness of all the transactions in the bank account. Consequently, audit cannot accept such transactions without necessary evidence as legitimate charges against public funds.”
The third query read, “Audit observed from the Fund’s 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, that amounts totalling N 17,158,883,034.69 were transferred 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.”
The panel chairman, therefore, asked the management of the agency to appear before his members on June 15 for further investigation.

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