Drama ensued in the Senate Public Account Committee hearing as the Managing Director of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund, Dr. Michael Akabogu, told lawmakers that termites ate N17 billion vouchers inside a container in their office.
The Senate Committee on Public Account is investigating the illegal transfer of N17 billion from First Bank and Skye Bank to personal accounts and companies.
This was a development that forced the lawmakers to invite present and past management of the NSITF.
The committee hinged the investigation on the 2018 Auditor General of the Federation’s report.
According to the report, the N17 billion was illegally transferred between 2010 and 2016 under the leadership of Mallam Umar Munir Abubakar.
However, when the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, asked the present Managing Director to search for vouchers of the N17 billion in the office for the Committee to know what the money was used for, he said in his response no documents of such was in their kitty.
Akabogu said: “The container the said documents were kept by past management has not only been weather beaten 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 to us.”
Irked by submissions of the past and present NSITF officials, the committee through its Chairman descended heavily on them by ordering them to re-appear before it with all the requested evidential documents unfailingly on September 22, 2022.
Urhoghide 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 N17.158 billion multiple transfers carried out in 2013 has not been answered at all, not to talk of N5.5 billion allegedly diverted into a commercial bank account without approval, N2.2 billion 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.”
Earlier, in his submissions, the Managing Director of NSITF from 2010 to 2016 said he was unaware of the query and had no explanations for it since the audit was not carried out during his tenure.
But his successor, Adebayo Somefun, who was head of the agency from May 2017 to July 2020, said 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 .
The query reads: “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 N17,158,883,034.69billion 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.”