Group urges EFCC, ICPC to investigate alleged tax corruption in NSITF

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By Emmanuel Oloniruha

The Transparency and Accountability Group(TAG), a civil society coalition against corruption, has called on anti-corruption agencies to probe the Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) over alleged non-remittance of N2.1 billion workers’ tax.

The group made the call at a news conference by the Executive Director, Centre for Responsive Governance, Mr Ayodeji Ologun, on Friday in Abuja.

Ologun also called on both the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) to probe NSITF’s procurement processes.

He called on President Bola Tinubu to intervene in the alleged series of crisis rocking the agency, which often result to frequent clash between the union and management.

He alleged that the sum of N2.1 billion was deducted from the NSITF staff’s salaries in 2022 as taxes, but instead of remitting it to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the agency invested it.

He said that up till this moment the said amount was yet to be remitted to the FIRS, thereby delayed issuance of tax clearance certificate to the staff of the agency.

“Members of staff of this agency living Lagos, particularly and other zones face different difficulties when applying tax clearance to enroll their wards in school.

“Our findings revealed that rather than remitting this huge amount of money, the management of NSITF invested this money with Norrenberger, a company that wasn’t among the counterparties approved by the board of the agency,’’ he said.

Ologun said though the present Managing Director of NISTF, Mrs Maureen Allagoa, was the Executive Director of Administration when the money was invested; the deducted t”xes were yet to be remitted even under her watch.

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He also called on the anti-graft agencies to investigate the role of the former Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, in the allegation.

Ologun also called on the ICPC to conduct a thorough investigation into appointment of a consultant by the NSITF to conduct forensic investigation without due process.

He said that the fund managing director in December 2022 secretly appointed Messers Deem Forensic Integrated Services Limited to inspect the books of all contributors to the NSITF.

He said that the decision which was communicated to all NSITF regional, branch offices and all stakeholders on Jan. 27, 2023, cited sections 31, 53 and of the employees compensation Act 2010.

He added that in an attempt to cover its track the management on May 8, constituted a Parastatal Tenders Board (PTB) to consider and award the procurement of consultants;

“To conduct forensic recovery into remittances of companies/organizations in the Private Sector Qualified under the Act to remit one per cent of gross payroll to the NSITF from 2010 till date.

“We found out that this act is tantamount to the breach of procurement process,’’ he said.

Ologun said that NSITF Management was attempting to award the same contract in 2024 to Deem Forensic Global Services and M/S Nwaodu Udochi Anthony & Co. with ambiguous terms of payment.

He urged the ICPC to mandated NSITF to produce evidence of the purported board approval and how Deem Francis was recruited to embark on the sensitive consultancy service.

He also called on”the NSITF management to show to the public financial implications of the project, provision for the expenditure in 2022 appropriation and how much Deem Forentic has been paid so far.

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Ologun also accused the agency of duplication of already existing contracts, arbitrary and outrageous spending of public funds on frivolities.

“We also observed that in the proposed award of internet connectivity of 19 DRC, the management is to spend the sum of N133.9m, which is to be awarded to M/S NEWCOM GLOBAL SERVICES LTD.

“This is obviously outrageous and not in tandem what is expected of an agency saddled with the responsibility of managing people’s fund,’’ he said..

Meanwhile the management NSITF has dismissed the allegations by the group, describing it as another “ sound and furry” by extortionists and detractors.

The agency in a statement by its General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Nwachukwu Godson, vowed to move ahead with its reform.

Godson recalled that the NSITF had on May 14, challenged a cohort of TAG to prove similar allegations or take its trade elsewhere.

He said that agency was  not cowed by the unrewarding whining from a poorly articled traders of hurt and malice since its books were opened and there was nothing really to hide .

He said that the deliberate distortion of the issues surrounding the N47 million gratuity had adequately been addressed by the immediate past Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Simon Lalong through a committee set up in October 2023, which established no guilt against the NISTF managing director.

He said that all the allegations were lies told so many times which had failed before consistent knocking of available facts.

Godson  said that the allegations by TAG were a motley rehash of issues which had been properly addressed before now and some of which the ICPC and EFCC were investigating and so far, no wrong doing established on the part of the agency’s management. (NAN)(www.nannnews.ng)

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Edited by Isaac Aregbesola

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