The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has hailed the Federal High Court Abuja for granting an order of interim forfeiture of 48 choice properties, allegedly belonging to a former chairman of the Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Funds, Ngozi Olejeme.
Tola Oresanwo, Coordinator for Administration and Programmes for CACOL, in a press statement quoted his Chairman, Debo Adeniran, as noting that “it would be recalled that the forfeiture order was granted after the counsel for the EFCC, Ekele Iheanacho, convinced the court that the said property was purchased with proceeds of crime.
The former chairman of the Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Funds, Ngozi Olejeme who was also the treasurer of the Jonathan-Sambo Campaign Organisation in 2015 has been on the run since 2016 and was in September 2017, declared wanted by the EFCC for criminal conspiracy, abuse of office, diversion of public funds and money laundering.
She was alleged to have, along with the former managing director of NSITF, Mr Umar Abubakar, mismanaged and diverted over 69 billion Naira”
“The court presided over by Justice Taiwo Taiwo, in granting the application, ruled that the interim order should be published in a leading newspaper within seven days of receipt of the order and for any interested party to show cause within 14 days why the property should not be permanently forfeited to the government”.
The chair of the Anti-Corruption Coalition said “we commend, laud and enthuse on the Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja for granting an order of interim forfeiture for these choice properties though the principal suspect in the case is still at large”.
“We can also recollect how President Buhari, recently asked the current Managing Director, Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund, Mr Adebayo Somefun, to go on immediate and indefinite suspension for alleged financial misappropriation.
In a statement by the Ministry of Labour and Employment on Thursday stated that 11 other officials in the NSITF were also asked to proceed on suspension.
Their suspension, according to the ministry, was due to the preliminary established prima facie infractions of the Financial Regulations and Procurement Act, and other acts of gross misconduct”.
“This recent suspension of the top management cadre of the fund is an indication that corruption has indeed found its safe abode in the nest of the trust fund. It further shows that these set of people who were entrusted with the fund cannot be trusted as they have continually been dipping their hands in the cookie jar”.
The CACOL’s Chief added “It is pathetic and lamentable that in a country with majority of its citizens living far below the poverty line and where social safety nets are almost nonexistent, the fund allocated for social insurance can be misappropriated and spent without recourse to due process”.
“We therefore call on the Federal Government to immediately and as a matter of urgency audit the role of the suspended officers in financial and procurement breaches as well as in gross misconduct in the NSITF from 2016 till date as stated in the statement from the Ministry of Labour and Employment and if found wanton they should be handed over to the anti-corruption agencies for necessary prosecution.
The government should not fold its arms and allow unscrupulous public officials to run the various parastatals of government in their care aground while illegally enriching their private purses”.