Corruption: Probe panel exposes how billions of naira vanished at NSITF

Corruption: Probe panel exposes how billions of naira vanished at NSITF

A probe panel set up to scrutinize the activities of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) has accused the Fund of gross corruption.

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Submitting its report on Wednesday, July 17, Chairman of the Panel, Ishaya Awotu, said the Fund “does not have financial operational manual to guide in its financial activities while compliance with the provisions of the financial regulations in carrying out their financial transactions was very weak.”

Among illicit transactions by the fund’s management was an over N15billion done without authorization, the panel said.

The panel observed that the sum of N2.9billion was expended on computerization and other related ICT equipment.

This is even as another N2.6billion was deducted from various payments in respect of withholding tax, pay-as-you-earn, value added tax, pension and national housing fund, and never remitted to relevant authorities.

The panel furthered that “irregular allowances” totalling N5.7billion were paid to staff and management of the fund.

The panel lamented that payment vouchers in the sum over N27 billion were not presented to the panel for audit examination and sighting.

The Minister of Labour and employment, Dr Chris Ngige, had on 15th February, 2017 constituted the Administrative Panel of Enquiry to look into the financial state of affairs of the institution.

Terms of reference given to the panel were to investigate and render report on the accounting procedures of NSITF in order to ensure proper accounting and management of funds, especially on how the internal audit mechanism of the establishment broke down, allowing for such colossal loss of funds from the organisation; to conduct proper audit of the accounts of NSITF and render report; find out how the statutory deductions of pensions, Staff Housing Fund and Taxes (withholding tax, value added tax, staff housing fund and pay-as-you-earn) were not remitted to the relevant authorities for years, and to report financial and other matters.

Chairman of the panel, Ishaya Awotu, said the panel observed that the fund had external auditors for the period of 2011 and 2015. The audited financial statements and the management letters for year 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 were submitted to the management, he said.
According to him, as at the time of forwarding the panel’s report, none of the years audited accounts had been concluded while the audit reports remained unsigned. The basis for management’s re-appointment of the external auditors for the auditing of 2015 accounts could not be ascertained. l

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