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Alleged Frauds: NSITF CEO kicks as groups urge EFCC, ICPC to probe ‘weighty’ procurement, tax infractions

Mrs. (Barr.) Maureen Allagoa, Managing Director/CEO of NSITF

*The Transparency and Accountability Group and the Anti-Corruption, Good Governance and Human Rights Watch Network petition Nigeria’s anti-corruption agencies to investigate alleged ‘weighty’ procurement and non-remittance of taxes at the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund, as Mrs. (Barr.) Maureen Allagoa, Managing Director/CEO of NSITF says urging the EFCC and ICPC to probe the Fund over purported infractions ‘is an exercise in vain’

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Coming under public scrutiny for purported fiscal responsibility and accountability issues again, the Transparency and Accountability Group (TAG) and the Anti-Corruption, Good Governance and Human Rights Watch Network (AGHRWN) have urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences (ICPC) to investigate the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) in order to stamp out corruption in the organisation.

Ayodeji Ologun, in a petition he signed on behalf of the coalition, the Transparency and Accountability Group (TAG) Friday, June 7, 2024, said some funds were deducted from NSITF workers’ salaries 2022, but were not remitted to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the country’s tax regulatory agency.

NSITF Headquarters, in Abuja

Ologun complained that the non-remittance of deducted workers’ tax was too weighty to be swept up under the carpet.

He alleged that the funds were invested with a company not approved by the Board, instead of being remitted to the FIRS as the tax regulatory agency in the West African country.

The petition stated in part: “As a leading anti-corruption group in Nigeria, we have keenly watched happenings in this agency over the last two years, and have painstakingly identified and investigated some of these frauds, particularly those related to procurement and non-remittance of taxes.

“We call on both the EFCC and ICPC to ensure that these funds are not looted by people masquerading as lovers of the masses.”

The Transparency and Accountability Group also noted: “We demand that these contractors be investigated thoroughly to ascertain whether they genuinely took contracts from the agency or are merely fronting for corrupt officials.

“We demand that those found culpable should honourably resign and tender unreserved apologies to Nigerians for superintending and making the agency more corrupt.”

We’ll launch ‘Free NSITF From Corruption’ campaign ─AGHRWN

Likewise, the Anti-Corruption, Good Governance and Human Rights Watch Network (AGHRWN), in a statement jointly signed by Muhammed Adamu Usman, National Coordinator, and Babatunde Adekunle, Secretary of the organisation, had urged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the National Assembly (NASS), and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), to direct anti-graft agencies to thoroughly investigate the current Management of NSITF and prosecute those found guilty of infractions.

It described as oozing the rot of corruption in the Fund despite the cleansing efforts against corruption done by the immediate past President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.

The CSO said: “We will kick-start an action tagged: “Free NSITF From Corruption” with a protest at the Abuja headquarters of the agency. It is an awareness campaign intending to rescue the agency from corruption and those perpetuating it.

“On the very day of the campaign, thousands of our members will converge on the Federal Secretariat, and the procession will first go to the Office Attorney-General of the Federation, the National Assembly, and then to NSITF Headquarters”, all in Abuja, FCT.

Alleged corruption against NSITF baseless, reacts Allagoa, CEO of NSITF

However, in its earlier response to the sweeping allegation against the Fund, the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund had disputed corruption allegations preferred against the organisation.

The Fund reacted, contending that they were mere falsehood and the handiwork of extortionists, blackmailers and detractors.

Mrs. (Barr.) Maureen Allagoa, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NSITF, in a statement, had discredited the alleged frauds in response to a statement by the Anti-Corruption, Good Governance and Human Rights Watch Network (AGHRWN), a Civil Society Organisation (CSO), stating that corruption oozes in the agency under her watch.

According to Allagoa, NSITF has nothing to hide, stressing that the agency’s books has remained open for public scrutiny since she assumed office 2023.

Nwachukwu Godson, General Manager, Corporate Affairs at the Fund, in the statement noted Allagoa further said there had been orchestrated waves of uninformed and baseless publications by phantom groups and persons sponsored to tarnish the image of NSITF once more.

The Chief Executive also stressed that no amount of falsehood, blackmail, and threats would stop her Management team from taking the ongoing transformation of the agency along the 8-Point Agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration to fruition.

She stated: “We have nothing to hide, and our books have been open for public scrutiny since I was appointed as the Managing Director/Chief Executive of the NSITF in 2023.

“Upon appointment, my EXCO set a target whose thrust lies in the reform of the agency to fully implement the Employees Compensation Scheme.”

The NSITF Chief further noted: “The truth is that the NSITF at the moment is probably one of the most scrutinised agencies of government, and no verdict of guilt has been established beyond the usual nebulous tattletales and beer parlour gossip that lack logic and facts.

“Following petitions from Nigerians, among whom are those with genuine concerns and others with undisguised mal fide, the anti-corruption agencies have been investigating those petitions but are yet to pin any wrong doing to me or my EXCO.

“We, therefore, dare those behind these publications to make available to the public, one proven case of corruption against the NSITF since I assumed office in February 2023.”

Allagoa averred: “Urging the ICPC and EFCC to investigate the NSITF with indictment in mind is an exercise in vain, for we fear no scrutiny.

“We went the extra mile to revive the anti-corruption unit in the Fund, resourced them to effectively discharge their duty, and thereby primed all staff towards transparency.

“In the past one year, the fund has held only one procurement process, apart from an ongoing one which is for the procurement of the internet-based information technology facilities, without which the day to day running of the Fund will grind to a halt.”

She as well said: “We convened the Parastatals Tenders Board to endorse and transmit same to the Ministerial Tenders Board to equally approve or reject. When a certain phony Anti-Corruption, Good Governance and Human Rights Watch Network accused the fund of ‘violating public procurement process’, we wondered where and how.

“Even though we have restrained ourselves from descending into the vortex of recriminations with faceless persons and groups, there is no better time to call the bluff of these amorphous people. Prove your allegations or stay away!

“Nigerians are not wet behind the ears or ripe for the picking. Nigerians are not gullible to buy into unsubstantiated sweeping allegations, punctuated with threats.”

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