Friday, August 12, 2022

EFCC issues arrest warrant for ex-NSITF chair Ngozi Olejeme

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Jaafar Jaafar
Jaafar Jaafar is a graduate of Mass Communication from Bayero University, Kano. He was a reporter at Daily Trust, an assistant editor at Premium Times and now the editor-in-chief of Daily Nigerian.
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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has secured a court order for the arrest of Ngozi Olejeme, who served as chairman of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund, NSITF between 2009 and 2015.

Mrs Olejeme, who parades an honorary doctorate degree, was also the Deputy Chairman, Finance Committee of the Goodluck Jonathan Presidential Campaign Organisation in 2015.

The Asaba, Delta state born woman,  was sacked by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.

Reports quoting Punch, said Mrs Olejeme was accused of diverting $48,485,127 from the social insurance scheme designed to provide compensation to employees who suffer from occupational accidents or diseases in the line of duty.

Mrs Olejeme and some directors in the fund were said to have diverted billions of naira including funds meant for the payment of allowances of its staff as well as compensation to contributors. The organisation is funded by deducting 1 per cent from all government and private sector employees enrolled in the scheme.

After her removal, a petition was written to the EFCC alleging that over N50bn from the Employee Compensation Scheme fund, paid by Ministries, Departments and Agencies and private companies as well as another N18bn, being the contribution of the Federal Government as take-off grant to the NSITF, was mismanaged and diverted into the personal accounts of Olojeme and a former Managing Director of the NSITF, Umar Abubakar.

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Setting up a team of detectives to look into the allegations as well as the bank account of the NSITF, operatives of the commission uncovered suspicious transactions and diversion of funds.

Some funds were said to have been traced to the accounts of some consultants and contractors, who were believed to be fronts for Olejeme and other directors in the NSITF.

The paper gathered that several directors and contractors were invited to explain their own side of the story, many of whom have since returned funds to the EFCC.

An EFCC report was quoted as reading thus, “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.

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“That out of the N62bn, 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.

“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.”

The report adds that Mrs Olejeme sent her account officer at FBN to collect $48m from some NSITF contractors through a BDC operator.

“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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“That she has refused to honour invitation and all efforts to get her to come and tell her own side of the story have proved abortive hence her arrest warrant has been obtained from court.

“We ask for the EFCC chairman’s approval to declare the suspect wanted.”

Unlike Mrs Olejeme, Mr Abubakar was said to have honoured the invitation of the commission.

Mrs Olejeme, who was also the convener of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme sub-committee on Public Works and Road Rehabilitation, could not be reached for comment as she has been out of the country for over a year.

Confirming the development, the EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, stated that Mrs Olejeme had been declared wanted and urged members of the public to offer information that could lead to her arrest.

“Yes, she has been declared wanted. Members of the public are advised to give us information that would lead to her arrest,” he told the national daily.

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