The suspended management of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) has said it is ready to face an investigation, if it is conducted by an independent panel of enquiry, over alleged N3.4 billion financial infractions leveled against it.
The embattled management rejected any probe panel set up by Labour and Employment Minister Chris Ngige.
The minister had, last month, inaugurated a Presidential Joint Board and Audit Investigation Panel to probe alleged N3.4 billion financial impropriety against the fund’s suspended Managing Director Adebayo Somefun and three other directors.
The committee is chaired by Ibrahim Khaleel, the Treasurer of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Chairman of the Audit Committee of the NSITF board.
In a statement, Somefun noted that under the principle of fair hearing, the minister should not have constituted the investigative panel, being an interested party.
The suspended managing director also queried the omission of the representative of Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Taiwo Adeniyi, who heads the NSITF board’s Finance Committee.
According to him, the strange and suspicious barring of Adeniyi, who is also the President of NECA, from the panel, indicated the possibility of an already pre-planned indictment of perceived non-loyalists within the agency.
Somefun said all that were done in the award of contracts, training and budgets of the agency were approved by Ngige and the Parastatals Tenders Board, as the case may be.
He said the suspended management approached the National Industrial Court (NIC) to enforce the spirit of fair hearing on the allegation of infractions Ngige levelled against some workers of the agency.
According to him, the clarification became necessary after Ngige accused the affected workers of dragging him and President Muhammadu Buhari to court over allegation of financial infractions.
The statement said: “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.”