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N87bn Misappropriation: Auditor General Office Gives NSITF 50 Queries

The Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation has raised 50 audit queries against the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), which bothered on how the Agency reportedly mismanaged a whopping N87 billion without the necessary approvals or evidence of such expenditures.

The audit report also alleged undue ministerial interference in the management of the finances of the Fund in violation of government circular number ECD/P/230 of 18th October, 1996 which prohibited supervising Ministries from interfering in the finances of parastatals under her.

It could be recalled that a former Chairman of the Fund, Mrs Ngozi Olejime is currently on trial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for her alleged role in the financial management of the agency.

In the audit queries currently being considered by the House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts, under the Chairmanship of Hon Busayo Oluwole Oke, the AUGF directed the management of the fund to explain and provide evidence of how N41.683 billion was spent without the necessary approvals or face sanctions.

The management is also to justify, recover and remit to the federation account the sum of N10.9 billion spent by the fund without evidence of expenditure, account for how N29.2 billion was spent and how the sum of N5.528 billion was spent without approval.

The report said that the NSITF was implementing a salary structure and paying irregular allowances not approved by the National Salaries Income and Wages Commission to its staff leading to irregular payments of N38.219 billion as salaries and N1.872 billion as allowances.

Out of the irregular allowances, it said the Managing Director and the three Executive Directors collected about N69 million as executive management allowances for housing, furniture and generator in 2017, aside from the normal monthly allowance they receive known as management allowance.

It also alleged that the NSIFT transferred over N17 billion to some unnamed persons and companies between 2013 and 2018 without payment vouchers and other supporting documents for authentication.

It accused the management of diverting N5.5 billion from a Skye bank to a new account with zenith bank in 2014, adding that the second account was opened without the approval of Accountant General as required by financial regulation 713

The AUGF report also alleged that the fund transferred N504.22 million from its investment E-collection account to the capital fund expenditure account without approval of the board, while the sum of N100.215 million was returned leaving a balance of N404 million in the capex account.

It said that the NSITF engaged in unauthorized investment amounting to about N2.2 billion without adequate records to back up such investment adding that this may have led to the diversion of government funds to private use.

Similarly, the report said that the firm failed to properly account for about N93 million being return on investment from its properties adding that 18.7% of the gross rent collected was abnormal.

It said that the average return on investment of 1% is considered too low in view of the fact that they were investment opportunities that could have yielded better returns far above the rate.

Between January 1, 2012, to December 31, 2017, the fund was said to have deducted about N3.623 billion naira as Pay As You Earn, Value Added Tax and With Holding Tax without remitting same to the appropriate tax authority.

Other allegations including failure to present payment vouchers for 2012 to 2017 amounting to N6.89 billion naira audit, irregularities in the award of ICT related contracts worth N5.532 billion naira so e of which were duplicated or without a certificate of no objections, payment of contract not supported by relevant documents worth N1.34 billion and contact splitting worth N390.414 million naira.

It also included an irregular award of a training contract (N250 million) without following due process, contact payment without evidence of performance (N151.39 million), awarding a contract worth N157.98 million to a contractor without documents to back up the contract as well as an irregular award of a consultancy contract for processing and regularization of title deeds and survey plans worth N120 million.

The AUGF also queries the fund for paying N170.33 million to the consultant without proper documentation which could lead to misappropriation and misapplication of funds, as well as irregular payment of N96.89 million for the suppliers of UPS and inverters and award of contract for the supply of 22 motor vehicles at the cost of N146.03 million without due process and another contract for the supply of one Prado jeep at the cost of N48.3 million worth without broad approval.

The fund is also said to have paid N35.9 million naira for a contract not executed, paying N32.3 million for a contract without due process as no tender documents were provided.

The AUGF also accused the fund of spending N926.534 million to engage external solicitors without clearance from the office of the Attorney General of the federation, while spending another N185 million as legal fees without the approval of the Attorney General.

It also accused the Fund of making irregular payment of public funds to Bureau de change worth N467.42 million and paying about N84 million to travel agents without any supporting documents, spending N180.84 million on international travel without the approval of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and spending another N35.422 million on estacode without approval.

Tribune

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