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Reps upturn Ngige’s suspension of NSITF management

Reps upturn Ngige’s suspension of NSITF management

   *Lawmakers set to notify SGF, CoF

The House of Representatives has declared the procedure adopted in the suspension of management staff of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) as illegal, null and void.

The House said the suspension was in flagrant breach of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund Act.

Meanwhile, the Office of the Minister of Labour and Employment was yet to respond to the the submission of the House of Representatives.

The lawmakers made this known on Thursday during plenary while considering a ‘Report of the Ad-hoc Committee on the Need to Investigate the Arbitrary Breach of Presidential Directives on the Suspension of Top Management and Executive Committee Members of NSITF and Other Government Agencies by Ministers.’

Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige had on July 2nd 2020, approved the immediate and indefinite suspension of the Managing Director/Chief Executive of NSITF, Adebayo Somefun, the three Executive Directors and some senior members of the Fund.

The Minister accused them of allegedly lavishing N3.4 billion on “non-existent” staff training split into about 196 different consultancy contracts in order to evade the Ministerial Tenders Board and Federal Executive Council approvals.

The suspension came a month after the Secretary to the Government of the Federation’s (SGF) restrained cabinet Ministers from removing heads of agencies and parastatals they supervise.

On this premise, the lawmakers set up an ad-hoc committee headed by Miriam Onuoha to investigate the flouting of the directive by Ministers.

While adopting the report of the ad-hoc committee, the lawmakers urged President Muhammadu Buhari, through the office of Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), to reinstate the officials and ensure that due process is observed in line with the provisions of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund Act, and the Circular (Ref No: SGF/OP/l.S.3/T/163).

Indeed, in the circular titled, ‘Approved Disciplinary Procedure Against Chief Executive Officers of Federal Government Parastatals, Agency and Departments,’ the SGF, Boss Mustapha, stated that Ministers no longer have the powers to remove heads of agencies under their ministries.

He listed the procedure to deal with erring officials including investigation of the allegations against them by the boards of such agencies.

Side-stepping circular, Ngige said he obtained presidential approval to suspend the NSITF officials.

The suspended officials affected by the resolution are Adebayo Somefun, the Managing Director/Chief Executive); Kemi Nelson, Executive Director, Operations; Tijani Suleiman-Darazo, Executive Director, Administration; Jasper Azuatalam, Executive Director, Finance and Investment; Olumide Olusegun Bashorun, General Manager, Administration.

Others are Lawan Tahir, General Manager, Finance, Chris Esedebe, General Manager, Claims, Oludotun Adegbite, Deputy General Manager, Investment; Emmanuel Sike- Enyinnaya, Deputy General, Manager, Finance; Dorothy Tukura, Deputy General Manager, Training; and Olutoyin Arokoyo, Deputy General Manager, (Legal.

Also suspended was Victoria Anyatuga, Assistant, General Manager, Audit; and Abdul-Rasheed Lawal (BPP), Deputy Director Procurement, who had since been transferred to the Ministry of Transportation by the Bureau of Public Procurement.

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