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We sued to ensure fair hearing, says NSITF MD

We sued to ensure fair hearing, says NSITF MD

THE suspended management of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) insisted it approached the National Industrial Court to enforce the spirit of fair hearing on the allegation of infractions levelled against some staff of the Fund.

The Managing Director of NSITF, Adebayo Somefun, who reacting to the claim by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige that the affected staff dragged him and President Muhammadu Buhari to court over allegation of financial infractions by the Minister, which a panel headed by the Treasurer of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ibrahim Khaleel is currently investigating.

Somefun explained that under the principle of fair hearing, the panel saddled with investigating the Minister’s allegations ought not to have been empaneled by himself who is an interested party.

Somefun added that all that were done in award of contracts, training and budget of the Fund were approved by the Minister and the Parastatals Tenders Board as the case may be.

The NSITF boss also queried the omission of the representative of Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), Taiwo Adeniyi who heads the Finance committee of the NSITF Board.

He alleged that the strange and suspicious barring from the Board of Adeniyi who is also the President of NECA, from the Joint Audit and investigative panel indicates the possibility of an already pre planned indictment of perceived non-loyalists within the Fund.

The MD said the suspended staffers are ready to be investigated by an independent panel of inquiry but not the one the Honorable Minister set up.

He explained: “We hold in high esteem the office of the President and that of the Minister of Labour and Employment as the representative of the President. We did not drag Mr President to court. The office of Mr President is highly revered and regarded by us because he appointed us in the first place. We owe our stay in office at his pleasure and we do not take that lightly. We respect the constituted authority. However, what we are in court for is to enforce our right to fair hearing. The Minister accused us of perpetrating financial infractions and then set up a panel to probe issues he has already accused us of perpetrating. For us, all we did in office had the approval of the Minister and the Parastatals Tenders board where necessary. We have documentary and other evidences to prove our innocence. The members of the Executive team are appointed by Mr President. Our loyalty is total to Mr President. If the Minister is sure about the allegations he levelled against us, he should allow a neutral body to set up an independent panel and present his evidence to the panel. Consequently, we approached the Industrial court for adjudication because the case is purely industrial in nature.”

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