‘Termites ate N17bn voucher in our office’, NSITF tells Senate

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The management of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) has failed to justify spending the sum of N17.158 billion alleging that the documents containing proof of expenditure have been eaten up by termites.

Michael Akabogu, managing director NSITF told the senate public account committee hearing that termites ate N17.1 billion vouchers inside a container in their office. The senate committee is investigating the illegal transfer of the sum from First Bank and Skye Bank to personal accounts and companies in 2013.

The senate who invited both present and past management of the NSITF hinged the investigation on the 2018 Auditor General of the Federation’s report.

The Auditor – General’s office had in the 2018 Audit report, raised 50 different queries bordering on alleged misappropriation of funds by management of the agency , which are being looked into by the Senate Committee on Public Accounts.

The query reads: “Management of NSITF as shown in statements of Account No. 1750011691 with Skye bank plc, for the period 1st January, 2013 to 20th December, 2013, and Statements of Account No.2001754610 with First Bank Plc for the period 7th January, 2013 to 28th February, 2013, transferred amounts totalling N 17,158,883,034.69billion to some persons and companies from these accounts.

“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.

“These are in violation of Financial rule 601 which states that “All payment entries in the cashbook/accounts shall be vouched for on one of the prescribed treasury forms. Vouchers shall be made out in favour of the person or persons to whom the money is actually due.

“Under no circumstances shall a cheque be raised, or cash paid for services for which a voucher has not been raised”.

However, the past did present man agent of the NSITF failed to offer satisfactory explanations on the undocumented multiple transfers. The management in 2013 told the committee that documents like vouchers were left behind by them while the present Managing Director of NSITF, Akabogu, said no documents of such is in their office .

“The container the said documents were kept by past management has not only been weather beaten over the years, but even possibly being eaten up by termites. As directed by this committee, I told the past management officers on the need for them to help us out in answering this query with necessary documents, which have not been made available to us,” Akabogu said.

Irked by submissions of the past and present NSITF officials, the committee chairman, Matthew Urhoghide, ordered them to re-appear before it with all the requested evidential documents unfailingly on September 22, 2022.

“This committee has given you people more than enough time to respond to queries slammed on NSITF in the 2018 Audit report by the office of Auditor General of the Federation. The queries are 50 in number ranging from one misappropriation to the other in billions of Naira,” Urhoghide said.

“The one on N17.158 billion multiple transfers carried out in 2013 has not been answered at all, not to talk of N5.5 billion allegedly diverted into a commercial bank account without approval, N2.2 billion unauthorised investment without adequate records, etc.

“These are completely unacceptable and the committee will make sure that these queries are sustained if required evidential documents on monies spent or misappropriated are not provided.”

Earlier, in his submissions, Director of NSITF from 2010 to 2016, Umar Munir Abubakar, said he was unaware of the query and have no explanations for it since the audit was not carried out during his tenure .

But his successor, Adebayo Somefun, who was head of the agency from May 2017 to July 2020, said those in the account section should be able to trace the documents, which the current general manager, Finance alleged to have been locked up in an abandoned container within the premises of the Trust Fund in Abuja .

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