N5.5 BILLION FRAUD UNCOVERED IN NITEL

Telecoms

One of Nitel’s “skeletons-in-the-cupboard” came tumbling out this week as the company was sold and saw almost all of the senior management team  “offer to resign”.

According to a report of the investigative committee set up to probe the use of the Workers Pension Fund mismanagement of a whopping N5.5 billion pension fund was discovered. The summary of the report which was forwarded from the office of the Minister of Communications, Chief Cornelius Adebayo to the NITEL management indicted 11 of the management staff for helping themselves to various sums and were recommended for appropriate sanctions including termination of appointments, refund of the amount embezzled, and are to face the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC).

Top management staff who have offered to resign  though not among those indicted in the report, include Messrs Tayo Olanrewaju, DGM (CC), S. Edasefiema, SM (L), M.B Shehu, DGM(Bac), Wash Nwachukwu, DGM (S.I), A. Tijani, DGM(Project), H. Yar'Adua, CFO, A. Shamswna, H(HR&SC) and Mrs Z.M Rasheed, CMO.

In the report which was signed by the Special Assistant (Technical) to the Minister, Engineer T. S Oyeyipo, the indicted officers were alleged to have used not less than 63 banks and Discount houses in the fraudulent transactions with the NITEL Staff Pension Fund (NSPF).

As at December 2005, the report disclosed, the NSPF invested N4.899billion in various banks in which N1.489 billion is trapped in distressed banks while a total of N372.101 million could not be accounted for. Yet a sum of N117.138 million investment and placement in Kakawa Discount House Limited (N57.858 million) and Associated Discount House Limited (N24.279 million) could not be traced.

It will be interesting to see how the new owners get to grips with the endemic corruption in the company that affects all levels of its work.

Vanguard