The much-awaited report of the Senate ad-hoc committee that probed the management and administration of pension funds in Nigeria has established massive fraud running into billions of naira. ‘‘Corruption in all the pension offices over the years has developed into a specialised criminal cabal system,’’ says the report obtained by LEADERSHIP.
The committee recommends a comprehensive audit investigation with respect to the sum of N12billion comprising N4.6billion transferred from UBA Usuma Street, Maitama, Abuja, to Union Bank, Federal Secretariat Complex Branch, and the sum of N7.6b which was moved from Zenith Bank, Maitama, Abuja, to Union Bank, Federal Secretariat Complex Branch, accordingly.
The report, which will be debated on the Senate floor today, also indicts the Pension Task Team (PTT) and recommends that it be disbanded immediately and its chairman Abdulrasheed A. Maina together with John Yusuf, B. G Kaigama and all the members of the task team involved in the serial sleaze should be arrested and prosecuted by the Nigeria Police for the crimes of fraud, embezzlement, misappropriation, misapplication, illegal virement, contract splitting, award of contract without appropriations and outright stealing of pension funds.
Even as the report observes that banks were handy collaborators in the unauthorised and illegal opening of government accounts, change of signatories, transfers of funds, deposit of government funds and many other unethical financial transactions, it recommends that all officials in the pension department and their collaborators in or out of government and in any security agencies including the EFCC, ICPC and SSS who were found to have misappropriated, diverted and or siphoned pension funds by whatever means, or aided and abetted the commission of such fraud, should be investigated, arrested and prosecuted accordingly.
The Senate report also recommends that those persons investigated and arrested by the EFCC and other security agencies that are presently undergoing prosecution in various courts should be speedily tried and the stolen funds recovered from them.
In particular, the report recommend that the Pension Task Team should be compelled to submit its financial records and transactions from inception to date for auditing by the auditor-general of the federation as there would be more financial embezzlement and fraud which would only be discovered through the mandatory auditing in consonance with extant financial regulations.
However, the report notes that the functions of the pension department, which are statutory under the Pension Reform Act, 2004, that had been taken over by the Pension Task Team should be returned to the department and the Task Team immediately disbanded as its continued existence and usurpation of statutory functions and violation of extant laws are criminal.
Some of the recommendations of the committee include; ‘‘That all petitions, allegations and other cases of embezzlement, diversion and misapplication of pension funds by the use of cheques to withdraw pension funds from the banks instead of the e-payment system and illegal transfer of funds from authorised accounts should be comprehensively investigated by the Nigeria Police Force.
“That Auditor-General of the Federation should be allowed unhindered access to all the pension financial records and accounts book for proper auditing and the mandatory rendition of monthly transcript and bank reconciliation statements made to his office by the Pension Task Team in accordance with Sections 24 to 28 of the Financial Regulations;
“That all the authorised multiple bank accounts opened by the task team should be immediately closed and all the funds mopped up and classified accordingly with signatories to such account chosen in conformity with the Financial Regulations and extant treasury circulars’’.