James Emejo in Abuja
Protesting staff of the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) under the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE) wednesday paralysed activities at the commission’s headquarters over allegations of corruption against the Commissioner for Insurance, Alhaji Mohammed Kari.
Following the rowdy agitation, operatives from the Department of State Security (DSS) and the Nigerian Police Force had to be called in to rescued the NAICOM boss from being harassed by angry workers.
Kari was appointed as CFI by President Muhammadu Buhari on July 30, 2015 following the exit of his predecessor, Mr. Fola Daniel who tenure saw little or no protest from workers.
Troubled brewed at the commission in the early hours Wednesday when the workers’ union shut the business premises of the commission and prevented access into the building-and wielding placards with various inscriptions including: “Mohammed Kari must go,” “President Muhammadu Buhari save NAICOM from collapse,” “NAICOM boss indicted for N54 billion scam and “nepotism and favoritism in NAICOM.”
The Vice Chairman of the workers union, Mr. Mahmoud Usman, in a statement made available to newsmen said they were protesting what he described as incompetence as well as financial abuse by Kari.
THISDAY efforts to get a reaction from NAICOM management proved abortive
According to the protest letter: “The present Commissioner for Insurance, Kari was indicted chub the Justice Obiora Nwazota in May 2002 judicial panel report on the N54bn ‘loot’ of the liquidated Nigeria Airways.
“The report recommended that Kari who was the (then) Managing Director of NICON Plc and several others be held responsible for the sum of $13million transferred to Alexander Services Limited by NICON Plc.”
It said: “The questions should be asked how he ran Unity Kapital Assurance Plc, Nigeria Re-Insurance Corporation, NICON insurance Corporation and Niger Insurance Plc.
“Was a due diligence not done by the presidency before his appointment?”
The workers further accused the commissioner of failing in his duty to enforce the compulsory insurance as scuffed by various laws guiding insurance.
It claimed the situation had contributed to the low contribution of the insurance sector to the Gross Domestic Product of the country.
It alleged that under Kari, the commission had not been conducting routine inspection of all insurance institutions in the country.
The union also claimed the Deputy Commissioner for Insurance (Finance and Administration) Mr. George Onokhena appropriated the sum of $70,000 to himself on the disguise of medical treatment in the United States without necessary approvals.
The agitating workers also expressed dissatisfaction with what they described as lack of succession plan as the commission was in the habit of filling vacancies of directors from outside instead of allowing workers under such department to grow professionally.
Meanwhile, in a statement released last night, NAICOM spokesman, Mr. Rassaq Salami, said Kari was never arrested as being insinuated by media reports.
He said:”The National insurance Commission wishes to state that the Commissioner for insurance Mohammed Kari was at the senate today being November 23, 2016 to honour his earlier invitation from the Senate committee on Banking, insurance and other financial institutions on the Commission’s 2016 budget performance.
“He was never arrested by the Department of State Services as is being circulated. The DSS and Police attached to NAICOM for security only paved the way for Kari to leave the office and avoid any molestation by staff at the entrance gate to the commission.”