Suspension of NSITF management violated Presidential directive – NECA

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 The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association has faulted the alleged suspension of the management of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund by the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige.

It said the action was a violation of the disciplinary procedures approved by the President and released by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation which it said was put in place to stem the arbitrary removal of Chief Executive Officers of government and to ensure stability in the system.

NECA stated this in a letter to the minister dated July 3 and signed by its Director-General, Timothy Olawale.

Ngige had on Thursday announced the suspension of the fund’s management led by Bayo Somefun, for violation of the Procurement Act and other financial infractions.

But the NSITF Managing Director, Somefun, dismissed the minister’s directive, insisting that the minister lacked the power to suspend the management, noting that President Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), never gave such a directive as claimed by Ngige.

Reacting to the development in its letter to the minister which was also copied to the President, Vice President, the SGF and the National Assembly, NECA noted that as a board member of the fund, it was not aware of the allegations levelled against the NSITF management by the minister.

The letter read, “We were caught unawares and surprised at the purported suspension from office of the top management and Executive Committee of the Fund, effective from 1st July 2020 by your good self, on the basis of “prima facie infraction on the Financial Regulation and Procurement Act, apart from other gross misconduct” actions.

 “We were taken aback by the development due to the followings: The Board of the Fund was duly constituted and inaugurated by your good self and in line with the enabling Act governing the NSITF and activities of the Board.

“As such, ‘other acts of misconduct in the Fund’ ought to have been brought to the knowledge of the Board for necessary actions as it unfolded.

 “The suspension was in disregard of the well-publicised disciplinary procedures approved by the President and released by the SGF which was put in place to stem the arbitrary removal of Chief Executive Officers of government and to ensure stability in the system.”

The union said it expected that in line with the circular on Approved Disciplinary Procedure against CEOs of Government Parastatals and Agencies, the minister ought to have referred the matter through the Permanent Secretary to the Board which is still in existence, for necessary action in line with the relevant provisions of the Establishment Act and the Principles guiding Chapters 3 and 16 of the Public Service Rules.

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