By Funmi Komolafe & Victor Ahiuma-Young
LAGOSâ€”THE National Pension Commission (PENCOM), has suspended the Managing Director ofÂ the defunct NigerianÂ Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), Chief Enukora Joe Okoli, over alleged fraudulent diversion of N1.6billion NSITF contributors’ funds into private accounts for 20 months.
The development has raised fears that the wave of financial improprieties and unethical practices which hit the nationâ€™s banking sector leading to the sacking of executives of five banks may have crept into the pension scheme.
Okolie is also accused of failing to transfer more than N200 million interest from the principalÂ to Trustfund Pensions Plc, which by the strength of the Pension Reform Act of 2004, took over the assets and liability of NSIFT.
Vanguard gathered that the erstwhile managing director, who was suspended on Monday, was directed to proceed on compulsory leave pending a thorough investigation into the allegation of financial improprieties against him by PENCOM.
Meanwhile, Alhaji Umar Munir Abubakar has been appointedÂ acting Managing Director.
An impeccable source close to Vanguard revealed that the Board of NSITF which was said to have been inundated with several petitions against Okolie by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), among other concerned individuals and groups, met on Monday and sent him on compulsory leave with immediate effect.
It was also learnt that the police authorities in Abuja had last week quizzed the suspended managing director on the strength of petitions by some concerned individuals, groups and workers.
AÂ group of concerned workers under the aegis of Joint Workers Association for Good Governance (JWAGG),Â hadÂ Â petitioned the Inspector-General ofÂ Nigeria Police (IGP), Mr. Ogbona Onovo, to investigate Okoli,Â for alleged fraudulent diversion of N1.6billion NSIFT contributors’ funds into private accounts for 20 months.
JWAGG, in the petition, also alleged that Okoli had not transferred accrued interest of more than N200 million from principal amount to Trustfund Pensions Plc.