Northern Nigerian Breaking News

FG Uncovers Over N62b Fraud At NSITF


The Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) is a field of fraud and lawlessness, a report has said

A Federal Government panel has uncovered about N62.555 billion fraud in the agency.

The money was spent without proper accounting procedures being followed, according to the panel, which submitted its report to the government yesterday.

Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige said any member of the staff indicted by the report will face the law.

The chairman of the Administrative Panel, Ishaya Awotu, said while presenting its final report to the minister that the Fund’s books have not been fully audited since 2011.

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The panel discovered that several unauthorised allowances were paid to the staff and the management. Overseas trips and training were carried out without approval from the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation as required by civil service rules.

The minister had in February 2018 inaugurated the panel to investigate the finances of the Fund, following a damning report from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) indicting former Board members.

Some senior management staff were sent on compulsory leave to allow the panel carry out its assignment without any interference.

Awotu said that the panel noticed weaknesses in the operation of the Fund, adding that even though it had External Auditors from  2011 to 2015, the audited financial statements and the management letters for year 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 were submitted to the management, but were incomplete.

He said: “As at the time of forwarding this report, none of the years audited  accounts has been concluded while the audit reports remained unsigned. The basis for management’s re-appointment of the external auditors for the auditing of 2015 accounts could not be ascertained;

“The Fund does not have Financial Operational Manual to guide in its financial activities while compliance with the provisions of the Financial Regulations in carrying out their financial transactions was very weak;

“Bank reconciliation of most of the bank accounts of the Fund was not carried out. Without the reconciliation of the bank statements, irregular payments and fraud committed on the accounts cannot be detected. Furthermore, financial statements prepared from unreconciled accounts cannot be reliable. Non-reconciliation of bank accounts violates Section 716 of the Financial Regulations;

“The internal Audit function of the Fund was ineffective. The Panel observed that for the period 2013 to 2017, the internal Audit Department did not audit the cashbooks of the various bank accounts at the headquarters of the Fund; books and records of Investments and Treasury Department, Procurement Processes, Registration of Employers and payment of contributions by the Employers, Enforcement and Inspection activities, Fixed Assets etc. The lack of effective auditing of the Fund’s accounts and records violates section 1701 of the Financial Regulations;

“It was observed that the Fund was operating with incomplete books of accounts. Several bank statements of the various bank accounts, cashbooks, etc. were not submitted for audit examination and sighting. Financial statements (accounts) produced from such accounting system cannot be reliable.”

According to the report, “there were several transfers of funds in between bank accounts without authorization and approvals”. “The sum of N15,737,757,697.91  was transferred from one account to another. Evidence of the approvals and payment vouchers authorising the transfers were not presented to the Panel, it said.

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