President Muhammadu Buhari has sacked the suspended Managing Director of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF),Adebayo Somefun for spending N3.4 billion on “non-existent staff training.”
The President also approved the appointment of Akabogu Michael as Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer to replace Somefun.
Somefun and three other Executive members of the NSITF namely, the executive director, Finance and Investment, Jasper Ikedi Azuatalam; executive director, Operations, Olukemi Nelson and executive director, Administration, Tijani Darazo Sulaiman, were suspended last year for breaching procurement rules and other financial infractions by Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige.
Ngige had accused the then Management team of lavishing N3.4 billion on “non-existent staff training split into about 196 different consultancy contracts in order to evade the Ministerial Tenders Board and Federal Executive Council (FEC) approvals.”
Following their suspension, Buhari inaugurated a Presidential Joint Board and Audit Investigation Panel set up in July 2020 to investigate the infractions of the Public Procurement Act, 2007, and the Financial Regulations (FR) in the NSITF.
A statement by the Deputy Director of Press and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Charles Akpan said the President acted on the report of the panel to approve the sacking of Somefun and also ordered the reconstitution of the management board of NSITF on Monday.
Somefun and the three Executive Directors fingered in financial infractions were asked to refund to the NSITF treasury N181, 056,000 million being illegal over payments in salaries, allowances such as overseas travels, leave allowances for self and spouses in overseas, house allowance, DSTV and club registration and extraneous allowances not approved by the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC).
The statement said: “These financial infractions and other serious prima facia established malfeasance had resulted in the President approving the setting up of the Panel and the subsequent suspension from Office of the Managing Director (MD) and Chief Executive, and the three Executive Directors respectively of Finance and Investment, Operations, and Administration and Human Resources. Nine other top Management Officers in the General Manager Cadre were also suspended with the MD and the three Executive Directors on the recommendations of the Honourable Minister of Labour & Employment.
“In approving the implementation of the recommendations in the Panel’s report, the President specifically approved:
1) The removal from Office of the MD/CE and the three (3) Executive Directors and their immediate replacement from the pool of General Managers of the NSITF and if necessary sourcing of capable hands from sister like corporate organizations to uplift performance in the NSITF.
“Messrs. Bayo Somefun, Jasper Azuatalam, Tijani Sulaiman and Mrs. Olukemi Nelson were therefore relieved of their appointments with effect from 1st July, 2020. Also relieved of their appointments were the nine (9) top Management Officers on suspension with the MD and EDs who had their appointments terminated compulsorily with some to be retired after demotion in ranks from their present Ranks as recommended by the Panel.
“The MD and the three (3) Executive Directors are to refund the NSITF Treasury the total sum of One Hundred and Eighty One Million, Fifty Six Thousand Naira (N181, 056,000) being illegal over payments in salaries, allowances such as overseas travels, leave allowances for self and spouses in overseas, house allowance, DSTV and club registration and extraneous allowances not approved by the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC).
“Other nine top Management staff whose appointments were terminated for various infractions and who have also benefitted from the excess remuneration are to refund such overpayments to the Panel. These staff are: i) Bashorun Olumide, General Manager, Administration, ii) Alhaji Lawan Tahir, General Manager, Finance and Accounts, iii) Chris Esedebe, General Manager, Claims and Compensation, iv) Enyinanya Sike, Deputy General Manager, Finance, v) Dorothay Tukura, Deputy General Manager, Training, vi) Victoria Ayantuga, Assistant General Manager, Audit, vii) Dotun Adegbite, Deputy General Manager, Investment, viii) Arokoyo Olutoye, Deputy General Manager, Legal, ix) Abdul Rasheed Lawan, Deputy General Manager, Procurement.
“The “total overhaul” of the Procurement Department of the NSITF with a new team of Procurement Officers be trained from the pool of existing Staff and deployed to the Department while all the staff that have been serving there from 2017 – 2020 be removed and made to undergo disciplinary actions for offences ranging from injection of extraneous companies and projects after advertisement and bidding has been concluded, contract splitting, initiation of procurement contract without budgetary allocation, conversion and switching of one fully bided project to another. All Officers indicted are to receive the appropriate official sanction by the Board.
“The President also approved and directed that the Head of Service of the Federation terminate the appointment and dismiss the erstwhile Head of Procurement Department Engr. Abdulrasheed Lawal from the Public Service with effect from the date of suspension.
“The President also approved that erring companies and persons who default/neglect/refuse to make refunds of illegal monies paid to them will be sent to Anti-Graft Agencies (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission – EFCC and Independent Corrupt Practices Commission – ICPC) by the Minister of Labour and Employment for further necessary action.”