NSITF tells Senate termites eats up N17.158bn vouchers
Senate Committee on Public Accounts looking into NSITF spending has been told that termites has eaten up N17.158 billion vouchers meant raised to unexplained expenditure. A dumb folded committee vented its anger on both the present and past management of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund ( NSITF) for failing to justify spending of N17.158 billion in 2013 without the required documentary evidence. According to NSItF, some of the documents were eaten up by termites. In the 2018 Audit report by the Office of the Auditor General of the federation which the Senator Matthew Urhoghide, led Senate Committee on Public Accounts is relying on, the N17.158 billion was the total amount of money transferred by NSITF from its Skye and First Bank accounts into various untraceable accounts belonging to individuals and companies from January to December 2013. In the report, 50 different queries bordering on alleged misappropriation of funds by management of the agency were raised which are being looked into by the Senate Committee on Public Accounts.
Specifically on the N17.158billion unsubstantiated transfers made by NSITF , the query read: ” 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”. In sustaining or vacating the query. Senator Mathew Urhoghide led Committee interrogated NSITF’s past and present managements on where monies totalling N17.158 billion were transferred to between January and December 2013.
At the end of the day, non of the managements could offer satisfactory explanations on the undocumented multiple transfers as those at the helm of affairs in 2013 told the committee that documents like vouchers were left behind by them. On his part, the present Managing Director of NSITF , Dr Michael Akabogu who explained that no documents of such was in their kitty, said, ” The Container the said documents were kept by past management has not only been beating by rains 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 for us.” However in his submissions , the Managing Director of NSITF from 2010 to 2016 , Mallam Umar Munir Abubakar said that 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 , Mr Adebayo Somefun who was 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 Finance , alleged to have been locked up in an abandoned container within the premises of the Trust Fund in Abuja .Not happy with the submissions of the past and present NSITF officials , the committee through its Chairman, Senator Urhoghide , descended heavily on them by ordering them to re – appear before the committee with all the requested evidential documents unfailingly on Thursday , September 22, 2022.
He said, ” 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 . The one on N17.158billion multiple transfers carried out in 2013 has not been answered at all , not to talk of N5.5billion allegedly diverted into a commercial bank account without approval, N2.2billion 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.”