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Employees’ compensation scheme: Did Olejeme rob Nigerian workers?

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THE  former Chairman of Board of Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), Ngozi Olejeme is in the eye of the storm.

She is alleged to have betrayed the trust she swore to uphold, diverting funds from the employees’ compensation scheme.

Olejeme, who was also the Deputy Chairman, Finance Committee of the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation in the 2015 presidential election is wanted in a case of criminal conspiracy, abuse of office, diversion of public funds and money laundering.

It was Olejeme who was appointed chairman of NSITF board, in June 2009 by late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, that facilitated the successful enactment into law of the Employees’ Compensation Act in December 2010, and the setting up of necessary human and physical infrastructure for the implementation of the Act, which was signed by former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Olejeme is also the widow of late Felix Obuah, a former Chief Security Officer to Jonathan, and was said to have fled the country shortly after her sacking by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.

She was the convener of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme sub-committee on Public Works and Road Rehabilitation.

About Employees Compensation Act 2010

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As found on the official website of NSITF, the Employees Compensation Act was passed into Law in December 2010 by the assent of former President Goodluck Jonathan, to give statutory backing to the mandate given by section 71(2) of the Pension Reform Act (PRA) to NSITF for the provision of Social Security Insurance Services by operating the ECS.

The transition between the NSITF Scheme and the commencement of the Employees Compensation Scheme in 2011 was a period that was devoted to mainly strategizing and ensuring that the Employees Compensation Scheme became a reality.

The objectives of the Act are:  To provide for an open and fair system of guaranteed and adequate compensation for all employees or their dependents for any death, injury, disease or disability arising out of or in the course of employment;  to provide rehabilitation to employees with work disability as much as possible; to establish and maintain a solvent compensation fund managed in the interest of employees and employers; to provide for fair and adequate assessments for employers; to provide an appeal procedure that is simple, fair and accessible, with minimal delays; and  to combine efforts and resources of relevant stakeholders for the prevention of workplace disabilities, including the enforcement of occupational safety and health standard.

The funding of the scheme is based on 1 per cent of the payroll of employees remitted to the Fund.

In addition, the Fund, under Section 71 of the Pension Reform Act, 2004, is to provide “every contributing citizen Social Security Insurance Services other than Pension in accordance with the NSITF Act, 1993”. The Fund has commenced the process of putting in place the necessary infrastructure to implement Social Security Benefit to the aged, unemployed, child welfare and the physically challenged.

To this end, a bill for an amendment to the provisions of the NSITF Act to provide basic social security services to all Nigerians is before the National Assembly for passage into law.

EFCC findings that indicted Olejeme

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Six months after it was signed into law, the scheme took off on July 1, 2011. By that, all employers of labour were mandated by the law to contribute one per cent of staff total monthly pay into a pool of fund designed for the scheme. Consequently, funds started flowing into NSITF account as a contribution from the Federal Government and private sector employers of labour including take-off grant from the Federal Government.

However, after the dissolution of the board by President Muhammadu Buhari, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) found out that there have been several diversions of funds from the account of NSITF.

In a preliminary report, the Commission in December 2017, said: “It was discovered that the NSITF accounts in First Bank of Nigeria and other banks have witnessed a total turnover of over N62, 358,401,927 between 2012 and 2015 from the Employee Compensation Scheme contributions.”

It revealed that out of the N62billion, the Federal Government contributed N13,600,000,000 while the sum of N48,758,401,927.80 was contributed by the private sector. That there were several payments to individuals and companies from the NSITF bank accounts for purported contracts or consultancy services.

Also, the report said that some individuals and companies that received these payments, in turn, transferred part of the monies directly to the NSITF officials while others transferred huge sums to bureau de change operators who changed them to dollars.

Of N62.3billion fraud discovered in NSITF, $48,485,127 was allegedly credited to Olejeme.

The EFCC’s report on preliminary investigation further revealed, “That through this process, Dr. Ngozi Olejeme, the then NSITF board chairman, has collected a total sum of $48,485,127 from Mr. Chuka Eze (her account officer at FBN), which cash he collected on her behalf being the dollar equivalent of monies paid to BDCs by NSITF contractors.

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The money was said to be the Federal Government’s contribution to the take-off grants and Employees Compensation Scheme (ECS) for Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

More discoveries by EFCC

Exactly one year ago, the EFCC traced 38 houses allegedly belonging to Ngozi Olejeme. Then, the Commission said it had obtained an interim forfeiture order from the court to seize the properties until the conclusion of the case against her.  It also secured a warrant authorising her detention for two weeks for further interrogation.

This, the Commission explained, would allow it to complete the first round of the investigation and her arraignment.

But Olejeme reportedly took ill and was admitted to a private hospital in Abuja, where she’s being watched by EFCC operatives.

In a report the anti-graft agency said it recovered over 40 properties, out of which 38 belong to the ex-NSITF chairman, including the property at No. 51, Kainji Crescent, off Lake Chad Crescent in Maitama District.

However, the Commission also arraigned Umar Munir Abubakar, a former Managing Director of NSITF, and four others for alleged diversion of N18billion.

The others were Henry Ekhasomi Sambo, Adebayo Adebowale Aderibigbe, Richard U. Uche and Aderemi Adegboyega.

“She and others also diverted huge cash allocated for allowances of its staff and compensation to contributors. Detectives actually traced some of the NSITF funds in the personal accounts of Olejeme and the former MD, Umar Abubakar.

“For instance, Abubakar and others dishonestly converted to N18billion, being a contribution from the Federal Government of Nigeria as take-off grants and Employees Compensation Scheme (ECS) for MDAs.

“The said sum was diverted into personal accounts by an e-payment mandate jointly signed by Umar Munir Abubakar and Henry Ekhasomi Sambo,” EFCC said.

EFCC frozen 30 accounts, seized 27 assets of Olejeme

In March 2018, the EFCC  said it has frozen 30 accounts and seized 37 assets allegedly belonging to the Ngozi Olejeme. The report was carried by the Nation newspaper.

In the report, the agency listed the properties and their addresses.  It stressed that The ex-NSITF, who was grilled in January, is still placed on administrative bail with a responsibility to report fortnightly for interaction.

But it added that Olejeme was yet to admit that she committed any fraud while in office.

She insisted that she was innocent of all the allegations against her in spite of the fact that her Account Officer, Chuka Eze has spilled the bean.

The assets and their locations

Plot R/151(No. 30A) Kingsway Road, Old GRA, Enugu. Registered at Enugu Land Registry as No. 5 Page 5 in Volume 1659
Parcel of land measuring 4833.241 Sq. Metres located at Uberi Bush along Mbiama Road, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State
Parcel of land located at Igbanadan Bush, Emeya 2 Town Ogbia LGA in Bayelsa State.
Properties located at 196, Melford Okilo Road, Amarata-Epie, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State
Properties located at No. 25, Kainji Crescent, Off Lake Chad Crescent, Maitama , Abuja.
Property located at Plot No. 933 Cadastral Zone B01, Gudu District, Abuja
All that piece/parcel of land with C of O No. DSTR 1227 and the properties therein also known Umuezeafada family land located at KM 9, Asaba-Benin Express Road, Asaba, Delta State.
Plot 124 Cadastral Zone A02 Wuse Known as No. 30, Tunis Street, Off Lusaka Street, Wuse Zone 6, Abuja
Plot 3115 Cadastral Zone A04 Asokoro, Abuja.
Plot 2271 Cadastral Zone E12 Orozo, Abuja.
All that piece of land with C of O No. DTSR638 and the properties therein also known as Plot 101, Phase 1, Block 1 Core Area, Asaba Delta State
All that piece /parcel of land also known as Plot 1c, 3 and 4 Phase IV, Block 111 Core Area, Asaba, Delta State with C of O No. DTSR 1194.
No. 20 DBS Road, Asaba, Delta State
House/Flat 86, 11 Crescent, Kado Estate, Abuja
All that Piece/parcel of land and properties therein located at Ogbe Onishe Village in Umagwu Quarters, Asaba, Oshimili South LGA of Delta State also known as Luxury Suites and Resort Hotel, located off Nnebisi Road, Asaba
Properties located at No. 204 Nnebisi Road, Asaba beside STANBIC IBTC Bank
All that piece or parcel of land and properties thereof located at Elibujor Layout, Opp DLA office, Asaba Oshimili South LGA of Delta State. NSITF office located at Asaba Benin Expressway by Nuel Ojay Junction, Asaba.
Plot Nos 29 and 31 of Umonyia Ejedeofor Family Layout Ibusa Road located along Benin-Asaba Expressway, Asaba, Delta State
All that piece/parcel of land with C of O No. DSTR 16326 and the properties therein also known as Plots 104 and 105, Block IV, Phase V, Core Area, Asaba, Delta
All that piece/parcel of land with C of O, No. DSTR 55853 and the properties therein also known as Plot 34. Phase 111, Block IV, Core Area. Asaba, Delta State
Properties located at No. 17, Ebenuwa Street, Off Nnebisi Road, Asaba, Delta State
No. 3D Opolo, Old Commissioners Quarters, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State
All that piece/parcel of land also known as plots 7,8,11,12,15,16,19, 20,23, and 24 Phase IV, Block 111, Core Area, Asaba, Delta State with C of O No. DSTTR1194
All that piece/parcel of land with C of O No. DSTR15303 and the properties therein also known as Plot No. 16 Central Spine Phase IV, Asaba, Oshimili South LGA of Delta State
All that piece/parcel of land with C of O No. DSTR 16325 and the properties therein also known as Plots 109 and 110, Block IV, Phase V, Core Arae, Asaba Delta State
All that piece/parcel of land with C of O No. DSTR 13807 and the properties therein measuring 80.532 hectares in Aboha-Ogwashi-Uku(Layout) at Aniocha LGA. Delta State.
All that piece/parcel of land with C of O No. DSTR 15046 and the properties therein also known as Plots 96, 97, and 98 Layout Survey of Block 1, Bridge-Head, Asaba, Oshimili South LGA of Delta State measuring 6.684 hectares
All that piece/parcel of land and the properties therein located at No. 42 Lawrence Road Akintola via Okpe Road, Sapele, Delta State measuring 1274.95 Square Meters and registered at Land Registry Asaba as No. 8 at page in Vol at 8
All that piece/parcel of land and the properties therein located at Orugbe Bush, Emeyal 11 Town Ogbia LGA, Bayelsa measuring 3, 625.493 Square Metres.
All that piece/parcel of land and the properties therein located at No 6 Sir C.A. Aghara Drive off Okpanam Road by NNPC Filling Station, Asaba, Delta State
All that piece/parcel of land and the properties therein located at Oduke, Off Uche Nwembu Road, off Asaba-Benin Expressway, Asaba Delta State.
All that piece/parcel of land and the properties therein located at No. 3, Ogwa Godspower Avenue, Oshimili LGA, Asaba, Delta State.
All that piece/parcel of land and the properties therein located No. 11 Chiweta Street, off Ezenie Avenue, Asaba, Delta State.
All that piece/parcel of land and the properties therein located at James Odeta Street, Oshimili South LGA, Asaba, Delta State.
All that piece/parcel of land and the properties therein located at No. 8, Thomas Chukwunike Street, Oshimili South LGA, Asaba, Delta State.
All that piece/parcel of land and the properties therein located at No. 11 Mokolo Close, Off Summit Road, therein located at No. 8, Thomas Chukwunike Street, Oshimili
All that piece/parcel of land and the properties therein located at No. 11, Okadigbo Street, off Nebisi Road, Asaba, Delta State.

Closing-in on Olejeme, EFCC seizes  46 houses from Jonathan’s ally

The Commission’s investigation reached another crescendo into the alleged N62billion fraud against Olejeme when a  Federal High Court in Abuja ordered the temporary forfeiture of 46 properties allegedly belonging to her. She reported at the EFCC on Monday after which she was detained.

The properties in addition to those that were listed in March 2018 were said to be in several locations in Abuja, Delta, Enugu and Bayelsa states.

The properties comprise 27 buildings, including a bank, office buildings and houses, at various stages of development and several pieces of undeveloped land.

They also include a twin duplex office building – Plot R/151 (No. 30A) Kingsway Road, Old GRA, Enugu State – a parcel of land measuring 4833.241 sq. metres located at Uberi Bush along Mbiama Road, Akenta, Yenegoa, Bayelsa State; and a parcel of land located at Igbandaden Bush, Emeya 2 Town, Ogbia LGA, Bayelsa

Others include properties located at 196, Melford Okilo Road, Amarata-Epie, Yenegoa, Bayelsa State (six units of one bedroom apartments, one unit of five bedroom bungalows, a block of six units of office space); a mansion at 24 Kainji Crescent, Maitama, Abuja and a bank building (former Intercontinental Bank) located at Plot No. 933 Cadastral Zone B01, Gudu District, Abuja

Olejeme was appointed as a director on the board of Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited by President Olusegun Obasanjo, and was later appointed the chairman of the board of NSITF) in June 2009 by late President Umar Yaradua.  She was also the Chairman of the Board of Trustfund Pensions Plc, and the convener of SURE-P sub-committee on Public Works and Road Rehabilitation during the administration of President Jonathan. She was also a board member of Sheraton Hotel and Towers.

She contested in the 2007 PDP gubernatorial primary election in Delta State.

 

 

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