From Kemi Yesufu and Ndubuisi Orji Abuja
The House of Representatives has alleged discrepancies in a N7.8 billion payment for group life insurance by the Industrial Training Fund (ITF).
The lawmakers made the discovery during a public hearing by the Adekunle Akinlade-led Ad hoc Committee investigating alleged infractions in insurance payment by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
The committee had called on a Deputy Director in ITF, Suleiman Ningi, who represented the Director-General of the fund, Joseph Ari, to explain how N7.8 billion was recorded as payment for premium to Leadway Assurance when the insurance firm claimed not to be aware of such transaction.
“We’re asking you to explain this because we got the figure from the submission you made to us. But after our investigations, Leadway Assurance said it never received such money from ITF. So, what happened to the money?”
In his response, Ningi, who was head of the Insurance Desk when the transaction was done, insisted that Leadway Assurance was paid the premium.
“We paid the money to Leadway, we don’t know how Leadway came about its records but, we paid the money to Leadway,” he said.
Ningi, despite insisting that ITF followed due process in its dealings with insurance firms, was unable to defend the selection of unlicensed insurance and brokerage firms for its covers during the period under review. He, however, informed the committee that the submission made to it was not prepared by him which was why he could not defend some identified infractions.
The committee also demanded explanations on how the payment of N98 million and another N82 million were made to firms that denied receivership.
The lawmakers directed the author of the ITF presentation to appear before it at the next meeting, with additional information as requested by the committee.
Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), Vincent Akpotaire told the committee that the decision by his agency not to advertise for insurance firms to bid to cover it should not be categorised as a breach of the Public Procurement Act.
The committee had accused BPE of breaching the law for failing to advertise for the procurement of insurance cover for the organisation since 2009 against extant law that prescribed yearly advertisement. Akpotaire told the lamwkaers that the decision not to advertise was to enable BPE enjoy 50 pre cent discount from selected firms based on existing relationships.
The committee, however, told the DG that by that singular act, the organisation had committed a gross violation of the Procurement laws.