The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association has opposed the decision of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, to suspend the Managing Director of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund, and 11 other officials of the agency.
The Director General, NECA, Dr Timothy Olawale, in a letter to Ngige on Friday said the board of the fund, of which NECA was a member, was not aware of the allegations of gross misconduct and infraction of the Financial Regulation and Procurement Act.
He said the enabling Act governing the NSITF and activities of the board stipulated that the allegations should have been brought to the knowledge of the board for necessary actions as it unfolded.
Olawale advised Ngige to allow the managing director, executive directors and other suspended general managers to continue their lawful duties without hindrance.
“We were caught unawares and surprised at the purported suspension from office of the top management and Executive Committee of the Fund, effective from July 1, 2020 by your good self,” Olawale said.
According to him, the suspension was in disregard of the disciplinary procedures approved by the President, Major General Muhammadu Bihari (retd).
He noted that the disciplinary procedures were established to stem the arbitrary removal of chief executive officers by government and to ensure stability in the system.
The NECA boss added that the corporate governance structure of the fund as provided for in the enabling Act entrusted the board with the responsibility of dealing with these and other related matters.
“We wish to put on record that the board to which the NECA and other statutory Institutions like the Nigeria Labour Congress, the Central Bank of Nigeria, etc. are members were not aware of any of the claims made by your office as a subject before it,” Olawale said.
He advised, “The observed infractions on the Financial Regulation and Procurement Act and every other acts of gross misconduct in the fund should be referred to the duly constituted governing board through the established procedure for attention and appropriate actions.”
The DG added that he was aware that the Bureau of Public Procurement and the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation were currently auditing the books, processes and affairs of the fund for the period 2018 to 2019 and were yet to conclude the task.
The minister on Thursday had announced the immediate and indefinite suspension of the Managing Director, NSITF, Mr Adebayo Somefun, for alleged financial misappropriation and gross misconduct.
Ngige also asked 11 other officials in the NSITF to proceed on suspension.