Onyebuchi Ezigbo and Udora Orizu in Abuja
The House of Representatives has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to reinstate the suspended executives of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF and ensure that due process is observed in line with the provisions of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund Act.
This is coming as the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, has maintained that he acted within presidential directives on the suspension of top management staff of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).
The appeal by the lawmakers followed the adoption of a report by the Ad-hoc Committee on the Need to Investigate the Arbitrary Breach of Presidential Directives on the Suspension of Top Management and Executive Committee Members of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), at the plenary yesterday.
The House had faulted the suspension of the top management of NSITF by Ngige, saying it is a breach of presidential directives.
The lawmakers resolved that an ad hoc committee be constituted to investigate the procedural breaches of the presidential directives by both the Ministers of Labour and Employment and his counterpart in Power ministry.
Presenting the report, Hon. Miriam Onuoha said the procedure leading to the suspension of the officials of NSITF and the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP) were in breach of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund Act.
She also urged the Minister of Power to review disciplinary action against the Chief Executives of the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET) and the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).
Meanwhile, Ngige yesterday maintained that he acted within presidential directives on the suspension of top management staff of NSITF.
He said that in the exercise of his supervisory function, he also took cognisance of Secretary of the Government of the Federation (SGF) Circular REF:SGF/OP/1.S.3/T/163 dated 19 May 2020.
According to Ngige, “even after the presidential assent for disciplinary action against the MD and these officers for financial breaches, the Chief of Staff to the President (CoSP) still communicated the SGF because of the new circular and the SGF still subjected the Minister of Labour and Employment to submit the prima facie infractions and serious misconduct in view of circular above. The Minister of Labour and Employment complied and submitted the copy of the report and alleged gross misconduct again by letter dated June 23, 2020.”
A statement by the Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations in ministry, Mr. Charles Akpan said the minister stated this in his submission to the investigative committee set up by the lawmakers.
Ngige said that he did not go contrary to presidential directives, emphasising that the suspension also followed procedural compliance to the relevant authorities (Constitution, Public Service Rules, NSITF Act, Presidential Directives).
The minister maintained that the suspension of the officials was hinged on issues bordering on financial and procurement infractions, as well as acts of serious of misconduct.