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Senate probes NSITF for alleged N61.1 billion diversion

NEWSMAN, Abuja – Senate Committee on Public Accounts has begun a probe into the alleged diversion of N61.1 billion by officials of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).

Billed for today in Abuja, the Senator Matthew Urhoghide-led panel is hinging the Investigation on the 2018 report of the Auditor-General of the Federation (AuGF).

According to the document, the agency is being accused of diverting N5.5 billion.

In another query, NSTIF was said to have paid N38.2 billion as personnel cost from 2012 to 2017 without approval of the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission, in addition to payment of N17.1 billion to some persons and companies from the organisation’s accounts.

Urhoghide acknowledged that the agency has over 50 queries to respond to, the highest in the report under review.

Director-General of NSTIF, Dr. Michael Akabogu, in his reaction, urged the committee to duly scrutinise the report and summon him only for those that concerned him and refer others to his predecessor.

The document read: Audit observed that the Fund has 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 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.

The Managing Director is required to provide the approval of the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission for the implementation of the Fund’s salary structure.

Another query noted: Audit of the Fund’s bank statements for the period under review revealed that contributions received from the Federal Government in 2014, amounting to N 5,500,000,000.00, were diverted.

The third stated: Audit observed that for the period January 1 to December 20, 2013, N 17,158,883,034.69 was transferred to some persons and companies, Guardian reported.

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.

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