President Muhammadu Buhari has further proven his anti-corruption mantra with the recent indefinite suspension of senior officials of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) over alleged misappropriation of funds.
One of those that were disgraced out of their coveted offices was the Executive Director, Operations of the NSITF, Chief (Mrs.) Kemi Nelson.
Kemi Nelson, who doubles as the Zonal Women Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), was disgraced out of office with 11 other officials of the organisation, while investigations into the fraud allegations continue.
Also suspended are the Managing Director/Chief Executive of the agency, Mr. Adebayo Somefun, the Executive Director, Finance and Investment, Mr. Jasper Ikedi Azusalam; and Executive Director, Administration, Alhaji Tijani Darazo Sulaiman.
Some management members of staff who were also suspended are General Manager, Administration/Human Resources/Maintenance, Olusegun Bashorun; General Manager, Finance, Lawan Tahir; General Manager, Claims, and Compensation, Chris Esedebe; and Deputy General Manager, Investment and Treasury Management, Olodotun Adegbite.
Others include Deputy General Manager, Finance and Accounts, Emmanuel Sike; Deputy General Manager/Acting Head, Legal, Olutoyin Arokoyo; Deputy General Manager, Administration, Dorathy Tukura; and Assistant General Manager, Internal Audit, Victoria Ayantuga.
The government asked the executive directors to hand over to the most senior general managers, while Somefun was asked to hand over to the most senior officer in the Fund.
A statement by the Ministry of Labour and Employment on Thursday stated that the affected officials in the NSITF were also asked to proceed on suspension.
Their suspension, according to the ministry, was due to the preliminarily established prima facie infractions of the Financial Regulations and Procurement Act, and other acts of gross misconduct.
The FG said it would audit the roles of the suspended officers in financial and procurement breaches, as well as in gross misconduct in the NSITF from 2016 till date.
“During the period of their suspension, the suspended Officers are to face a joint board and audit investigative panel that has been set up to look into the financial and procurement breaches, as well as gross misconduct in the NSITF for periods of 2016 to date, which have invariably put the contributions of stakeholders in a perilous state,” the statement said.
The suspension was further confirmed by the Special Adviser to President Buhari on New Media, Mr. Bashir Ahmad on his twitter handle.
“For clarity, we need to mention that we received a letter from the Hon Minister of Labour and Employment Sen Chris Ngige stating that he is doing a procurement audit on NSITF and that Management is suspended.
“We note that the Minister’s action is against President Buhari’s directive through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation that stated clearly that no Minister should suspend or sack any head of agency appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The memo stated that Ministers should follow procedures by going through the governing board of the agency that will now make recommendations to the SGF to act if there is need. We are sure that President Buhari will not be part of any illegality and lack of due process,” the press release read.
It was added that the Management of NSITF “is still discharging its duty as appointed by Mr President.”