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Outrage as termites ‘eat’ NSITF vouchers

By Haruna Salami

The Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) has failed to provide documentary evidence for spending N17.158 billion in 2013.

Appearing before the Senate Committee on Public Accounts on Friday, the agency’s management claimed that some of the payment vouchers have been eaten up by termites.

The N17.158 billion, as stated in the 2018 audit report of the Office of the Auditor-Auditor-General for the Federation, was the total amount transferred by NSITF from its Skye (now Polaris Bank) and First Bank accounts into various untraceable accounts belonging to individuals and companies from January to December 2013.

“The management of the NSITF as shown in statements of Account No. 1750011691 with Skye Bank Plc, for the period January 2013 to December 20, 2013, and Statements of Account No. 2001754610 with First Bank Plc for the period January 7, 2013 to February 28, 2013, transferred amounts totaling N17,158,883,034.69 billion to some persons and companies from these accounts”, the query reads.

“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.”

But the present and past management of the NSITF could not offer any satisfactory explanations for the undocumented multiple transfers.

The officers in charge of the agency in 2013 told the committee that they left documents like vouchers behind.

Michael Akabogu, managing director of NSITF, said that no documents of such were in their kitty.

“The container the said documents were kept by past management has not only been beaten by rains over the years but even possibly being eaten up by termites,” Akabogu said.

“As directed by this committee, I told the past management officers about the need for them to help us out in answering this query with necessary documents which have not been made available for us.”

In 2018, Philomina Chieshe, an official of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), also claimed that a mysterious snake swallowed the board’s N36 million.

Chieshe later confessed that her coordinator, Samuel Sale Umoru, collected the money.

In 2019, a finance officer at the Kano Zoological Gardens accused a gorilla of swallowing N6.8 million.

In his submissions, Umar Munir Abubakar, the managing director of NSITF from 2010 to 2016, said that he was unaware of the query and had no explanations for it since the audit was not carried out during his tenure.

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

Irked by the submissions of the past and present NSITF officials, Mathew Urhoghide, chairman of the committee, ordered them to reappear before the committee with all the requested evidential documents unfailingly on Thursday, September 22, 2022.

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