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05 October 2020
In July 2020 the Federal High Court ordered the interim forfeiture of assets allegedly belonging to former Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) Chair Ngozi Olejeme. The NSITF is an employer and federal government-funded scheme which provides compensation to insured employees who suffer from occupational diseases, sustain injuries or acquire disabilities from accidents in the workplace or during the course of employment. Under the current legislation, the administrators of the cumulative contributions received into the fund must invest monies not being paid out in benefits in safe, liquid and profitable investments to generate income for the payment of benefits.
Olejeme was chair of the NSITF from 2009 to 2015. During that time, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) received numerous reports that she had diverted public funds, laundered money and abused her office. When the EFCC began to investigate the reports in 2016, Olejeme disappeared and was declared wanted. She is alleged, along with former NSITF Managing Director Umar Munir Abubakar, to have mismanaged and diverted more than N69 billion (approximately $180 million) into their personal accounts through the award of spurious contracts to proxy companies.
Some three years after declaring her wanted, the EFCC obtained from the Federal High Court the interim forfeiture of real estate located in various parts of Nigeria which allegedly belonged to Olejeme. This recovery step came after the EFCC froze more than 30 bank accounts alleged to be linked to the former chair, only to discover small sums in the accounts.
Despite this step, the question remains as to why it took the EFCC so long to discover Olejeme's alleged connection to these particular assets. Since she left office, the NSITF has allegedly been deprived of more than N69 billion that could have been invested for the benefit of insured employees.
For further information on this topic please contact Olamide Aleshinloye at Sofunde Osakwe Ogundipe & Belgore by telephone (+234 1 462 2502) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). The Sofunde Osakwe Ogundipe & Belgore website can be accessed at www.sooblaw.com.
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