Aggrieved staff of the National Pension Commission (PENCOM), has accused the acting Director-General of the commission, Hajiya Aisha Dahiru-Umar of fraud, flagrant violation of procurement process and abuse of office.
In a petition sent to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by staff of PenCom under the aegis of Pension Reform Advocacy Group and signed by its coordinator, Isyaku Abduralman, the staff alleged that upon the resumption of duty of Dahiru-Umar, PenCom entered into a phase of tragic demise. The group further alleged that in the last one year, the commission have witnessed brazen financial recklessness, gross incompetence, nepotism and mismanagement of material and human resources.
READ THE FULL PETITION BELOW:
We, the concerned and aggrieved staff of the National Pension Commission (PENCOM), are writing to inform and brief the Commission (EFCC) about the state of the PENCOM where we all work and contribute our quota to nation building, progress and development of our fatherland. You would recall, Sir, that there was a change of management of the Commission in 2017 where the PenCom Exco was removed and required to hand over to the most Senior Staff Member of the Commission. We are at a loss as how the person of Mrs. Aisha Dahiru-Umar was saddled with the responsibility of leading the Commission in Acting Capacity since she ought to have retired since December 2016. Furthermore, she has spent all her time in the Commission in the facility management and lately in the CSR Department due to her severely limited intellect and as such lacks the regulatory competence required to head the Commission.
It is without doubt that the two previous Excos made remarkable progress in institutionalizing the Commission’s long term developmental strategy, especially in the core areas of daily operations, infrastructure and welfare enhancement of all staff. It was clear to all and sundry that Pencom was being directed to a glorious path evidenced by consistent factual milestones.
Unfortunately, however, upon the resumption of duty of Aisha Umar, Pencom entered into a phase of tragic demise. We have, in the last one year, witnessed brazen financial recklessness, gross incompetence, the most extreme form of nepotism and mismanagement of material and human resources. These ills have essentially engendered Staff disillusionment and a general feeling of helplessness and despondency. This is truly unfortunate Sir.
A chronicle of the fraud and insider dealings going on in the Commission shall follow in turn Sir.
- CONTRACT SCAMS AND DEMAND FOR KICKBACKS
There is large scale financial impropriety and graft going on in the Commission at present. Contractors have been inundated with constant request for kickbacks from Aisha Umar during contract negotiations (Evidence Available), without which the said contracts are diverted and given to another company that is ‘willing to do business’. Legitimate contractors who have since fulfilled their deliverables are being owed and are told to come for “discussions” otherwise they will not be paid.
Most reprehensible is the malicious illegal stalling of the Pension Administration Project (PAS) for the simple reason that the American Company who have emerged the preferred bidders are not willing to engage in talks for kickbacks. Sir, contrary to the falsehood that is being peddled by her, we would like to bring it to your attention that the PAS project had been ongoing for over a year and the Commission has expended a lot of resources to document the steps required to fully automate its regulatory activities. The procurement process commenced with the issuance of a Request For Proposal (RFP) and culminated in the issuance of a no objection from the Bureau of Public Procurement. We gathered that the no objection arrived in the Commission shortly before the management change. Since then, instead of Aisha Umar to move it forward, she and her evil cohorts have been trying to get the BPP to cancel the contract. Following a letter drafted by Sani Mohammed, the Commission Secretary/Legal Adviser (CSLA), the BPP in rejecting the request to cancel the contract, faulted the points raised by Mohammed Sani as lacking in legal merit reprimanded the Commission with a stern warning to immediately finalize the procurement process. This technology ought to have been installed since last year, without which the Micro-Pension initiative, a major milestone of the administration cannot take off.
A sinister group of Ekanem Aikhomu, Datti Mohammed, Sani Mohammed also unilaterally awarded contracts to whom they please and back it up with bogus evaluations which they instruct Mr. Bako Mohammed, a long time criminal associate of Aisha Dahir Umar, to process. Mr. Bako Mohammed who has been undergoing investigations for rent seeking activities, was returned to procurement to facilitate Aisha’s nefarious transactions.
Cases abound with proof of companies and contractors who were and are still unduly engaged without recourse to proper procurement and bidding processes. For instance, an actuary firm, RBA Limited who has close ties to Ekanem Aikhomu was paid N60 Million for nebulous services without due process being followed. This is in contravention of all procurement laws and due process. This group of individuals have continued to help themselves in a most wanton manner to the coffers of the Commission and have subjected those against their activities to frequent changes of their departments as a way of subjugating them so that they will not expose their clandestine activities. They reward the faithful with incessant trips out of the country sham “overseas training” to keep them loyal.
We appeal that a thorough investigation be carried out to unravel this reprehensible activity and secure the immediate return of all monies to the Commission as leaving this unchecked is antithetical to the anti-corruption stance of this noble administration. The ‘Kickback regime’ style now in Pencom which was NEVER the case essentially renders nugatory the efforts of our indefatigable President in curbing the menace of corruption in our body polity.
- MEDIA SCAMS
Frequent singing off of huge public funds in the name of media and sensitization programmes, a large chunk which is usually pocketed by the Aisha Umar and two of her cronies; Mr. Peter Aghahowa,who is currently the head of Communications in Pencom and Mr. Tunde Philips who is the South West Regional Head, based in Lagos is now the order of the day. The office of the DG has a statutory approval limit of N2.5M, and Aisha Umar has continued to squander funds by signing multiple payment vouchers daily just under the capped limit thereby providing a slush fund for embezzlement by her and her cronies. Part of these funds are used to lobby various stakeholders in furtherance of her desperation to be confirmed as substantive DG. She has also used part of these funds to purchase two brand new 2018 fully loaded Lexus Jeep cars. This transaction was facilitated by Tunde Phillips who, again, with funds siphoned from “media enlightenment” arranged a door to door trucking delivery from Lagos to her residence in Stallion Court, Wuse 2, Abuja.
A cursory look at the books will reveal this fact. We do not believe in hearsays neither do we engage in wishful thinking, the facts are there. An investigation into the media and sensitization programmes in the Commission and the funds disbursed in the past year under the subhead will reveal dirty deals perpetrated by Aisha Umar in furtherance of her personal aggrandizement and a desperate bid to secure a confirmation as substantive Director General.
- RECKLESS DIVERSION OF PUBLIC FUNDS
There is rather incestuous utilization of Government funds to settle the Acting DG’s personal expenses. Again, a cursory look into the TSA account of the Commission will reveal diversion of Government funds into personal business of Mrs. Umar under various guises. A most perfidious phenomenon on this score is the quest for collection of humongous travel allowances for seminars, courses, sensitization programmes and other ‘events’. She collects all the monies for the aforementioned – local and international – without making an appearance in any of them. This can be verified from local and international airlines and the events themselves. She is ALWAYS represented at functions for fear of her ignorance of the entire pension reform being exposed. She studiously avoids engaging with the public and yet she collects allowances for such appearances.
This is a gross violation of public service rules and regulations. Sadly, while President Buhari’s administration has made tremendous strides in cutting cost and entrenching improved service delivery, the reverse has been happening in Pencom for the past one year. We have evidence of phantom contract engagements which huge public funds have been appropriated for. It is disheartening that such level of graft is going unchecked and Aisha Umar has been boasting that she has ‘settled’ very important people and no one can investigate her. These are verifiable facts and we urge you to correct this wicked stance by conducting a full scale investigation so that Pencom can be cleansed, returned to its former glory and further be strengthened to achieve its laudable mandate. To allow the continuation of these crimes unchecked would send the wrong signals to the contributors and retirees alike whose interest we seek to preserve and protect.
- 300% INCREASE IN THE TERMINAL BENEFITS OF GENERAL MANAGERS
Aisha Dahir-Umar together with some General Managers have plunged the Commission into financial abyss by recommending and unilaterally appropriating a salary increase for all cardres of staff to gain support for the clueless and incompetent leadership of Aisha Dahir-Umar. What the staff are just finding out however is that she surreptitiously embarked on a 300% increase in the terminal benefits of GMs. Terminal benefits, as we are all aware, are paid at the end of service of a public servant. However, right now in Pencom under the machinations of Aisha Dahir-Umar, the GMs have started paying themselves upfront and enjoying terminal benefis while they are still receiving salaries!! This is a gross violation of public service rules and all known rules of engagement. The question is who approved the humongous package? At what point was the approval obtained? And by whom? Where are the supporting documents? It is quite obvious that the sinister group made up of Ekanem Aikhomu, Datti Mohammed, Sani Muhammad and Aisha Dahir-Umar have pushed for this unhealthy increase. With the active connivance of Sani Muhammed, the Commission Secretary and Legal Adviser who has been falsifying memos to mislead the Office of the SGF, Aisha Dahir Umar pulled off this heist to the detriment of the Commission. As a result, the Commission’s financial health is now at grave risk, staff are unable to pursue their regulatory activities because basic supplies like photocopying paper and ink cannot be provided as funds have been diverted by Aisha Dahir-Umar. As we write, terminal benefits payments are being disbursed in instalments so they would have received all illegally appropriated funds in the event of their eventual sack. We cannot continue like this if we hope to build a formidable system and process to drive the change we so desire.
It is worthy to note that the level of ineptitude and incompetence displayed in her absolute lack of capacity to manage a blue chip organization like PenCom is responsible for the numerous major policy somersaults in the Commission today. For example, the Commission has witnessed more than three reshufflement exercises in less than one year in order to “silence” perceived dissenting voices. In addition, she has been engaged in running battle with the management of the Creche. We understand that she is bitter at the transformation of the Creche which was a cesspool when it was under her watch and wants to shut it down. It took the intervention of a high ranking official in the Presidency for her to pay the backlog owed. She was overheard furiously exclaiming that the high ranking official cannot command her and only paid a portion of the amount owed. She issued a termination letter to the Creche providers and shortly afterwards (no doubt following outcry by staff) hurriedly retrieved it and issued another letter of appointment but still wickedly slashing their engagement fees.
She has recklessly promoted staff to the General Manager cadre, bringing the number to seventeen (17!) from 10 last year. These General Managers, some of whose job functions are unclear (a GM is heading a protocol unit hitherto manned by a staff seven notches below the grade of a GM) and whose wages and allowances are now exceeding the emoluments of the highest paying multinational companies in the country. The question Sir, is what hope do we as employees have for career progression if the General Managers are seeking to perpetuate themselves in office? According to the staff policy, GMs are promoted based on availability of space and funds and several existing GMs ought to have retired before any promotion was done, but this was ignored as Aisha Umar claims to be above all rules and regulations.
- RESUMPTION OF NEWLY EMPLOYED STAFF
Last but not the least, Sir, is the clandestine recruitment that is being carried out by Aisha Dahir-Umar to supplant 43 persons who had been issued letters of employment since March 2017 for resumption in May/June 2017. These people were verbally directed by Mrs. H, Oniyangi not to resume work on the instructions of Aisha Dahir-Umar. No reasons were given to these 43 staff, most of whom had resigned from their previous employment and are now unemployed as a result of the Aisha Umar’s reluctance to absorb them despite appeals from all and sundry.
Upon their several petitions to the Office of the SGF, again, as is in consonance with her criminal character, she has lied copiously to the SGF, citing abnormalities and need for time to provide requisite infrastructure. An enquiring mind should ask: what infrastructure is required for a new staff besides a desk, chair and a computer? Provisions were already in process for this in March 2017, hence their resumption in two batches of May and June. What abnormality? There were requisite approvals by EXCO based on the memoranda from both finance and HR (Sani Muhammed is in custody of the excerpts and MUST produce them from where he has been directed to hide them by Aisha Dahir Umar) and following oral and written interviews, successful candidates were forwarded to the Federal Character Commission for a no objection. This was granted and it was based on this that the employment letters were issued by Mrs. Oniyangi.
We have since discovered that the real reason for preventing the resumption of staff is because a secret employment is being undertaken by Aisha Dahir-Umar to swap the 43 positions with her own candidates. Sources claim that in her greedy fraudulent quest for money, she is charging each candidate N2M per slot! We are all aware of the grave implications this would have on the society at large. These newly employed young men and women have families who depend on them and have been made to remain in limbo for the past 13 months. We believe strongly that the candidates have the right to resume work having been issued valid letters of employment and shoul not be subjected to the inordinate greed and criminality of Aisha Umar.
Notwithstanding the foregoing; the illegality of her position is glaring. In accordance with the Commission’s approved staff policy, she ought to have retired from the Commission since December 2016. She, therefore, could not have been the most senior person in the Commission as at April 2017 following the disengagement of the EXCO. Flowing from this, she has no legal basis to occupy the seat, award contracts, employ new staff and increase allowances and pay herself double salaries – salary of a DG and a GM. This may well be the basis for brazen impunity in siphoning public funds – there is no career to protect.
We implore the Commission (EFCC) to urgently intervene and thoroughly investigate the financial frauds being perpetrated by Aisha Umar and her cohorts who are bent on destroying the gains of Pension Reform over the past decade.
For: Pension Reform Advocacy Group
REVEALED: Why NSA Monguno did not attend Service Chiefs’ meeting
Presidential Adviser on National Security, Major General Babagana Monguno (redt) has gotten what seems a fresh Presidential endorsement just a week after his stinking memo to the Chief of Staff Abba Kyari was leaked.
In a Presidential statement, the NSA was named Co-Chair along with Humanitarian Affairs Minister for the newly formed National Humanitarian Coordination Committee.
A source in the presidency informed The Witness “that is an indication that the President has no issues with the contents of the memo,” even though there are concerns in the Villa on how the memo was leaked.
Also the source explained that National Security Adviser (NSA) Babagana Monguno did not attend the meeting between Service Chiefs and President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday because he was out of the country.
It was revealed that the movement of the NSA has never been put in the public domain.
“This is an intelligence matter, no one issues a statement stating that the NSA and other Service Chiefs are travelling, and that is so for security reasons.”
The source explained that the movement of the NSA is not subject to public exposure. “The truth is that on Monday the President approved the constitution of a National Humanitarian Coordination Committee (NHCC) and he appointed the NSA as co-Chairman.
“The NSA and the President have a smooth working relationship and the same can be said of his relationship with the Chief of Staff. I think Nigerians need to learn more about the sensitivity of the role of the NSA,” the source said.
Some Nigerians on social media had raised eyebrow over the absence of the NSA at a meeting with Security Chiefs claiming that it could have been as a result of the memo leak from the Presidency.
A letter by NSA Monguno to the Chief of Staff was leaked to the media by unknown persons.
In the letter, Mr Monguno said Mr Kyari’s directives to service chiefs were sometimes issued without the knowledge, much less approval of the president, a practice he said has added to government’s failure to contain insecurity.
“Chief of staff to the president is not a presiding head of security, neither is he sworn to an oath of defending the country,” Mr Monguno, a retired major-general, said in the December 9, 2019, letter.
“As such, unprofessional practices such as presiding over meetings with service chiefs and heads of security organisations as well as ambassadors and high commissioners to the exclusion of the NSA and/or supervising ministers are a violation of the Constitution and directly undermine the authority of Mr President.
“Such acts and continued meddlesomeness by chief of staff have not only ruptured our security an defence efforts, but have slowed down any meaningful gain that Mr President has sought to achieve.”
Ex-staff fights embattled billionaire Onajite Okoloko‘s Notore Chemical Industries, wins in court
The National Industrial Court, Lagos Division, has ordered Notore Chemicals Industries Plc, owned by embattled Nigerian billionaire Onajite Okoloko’s, to pay Mr. Ayodele Balogun, a former employee of the company the sum of N20, 525, 999 (Twenty Million, Five Hundred and Twenty-Five Thousand, Nine Hundred and Ninety Nine Naira, Sixty Kobo only) as outstanding balance of his gratuity payment due to him since 2013.
In a judgement monitored by The Witness, and delivered by the presiding judge, Hon. Justice Nelson Ogbuanya, the court held that the company action credited to external advice which prompted the defence of ‘mistaken payment’ was not justified, and cannot override the obligation to pay outstanding balance due to the claimant.
The claimant- Ayodele was employed on 1st October 2008 as Chief Marketing Officer, that by a letter dated June 14, 2013, sent via e-mail on Wednesday June 19, 2013 he tendered resignation, and indicated that it would take effect on 1st October 2013, that as a result of his service to the firm spanning 5 years, that he has become entitled to payment of gratuity upon successful exit from the Company that a total settlement package was communicated to him via e-mail out of which only 50% was paid and all effort to get balance proved abortive.
In argument, the firm submitted that Ayodele did not attain the threshold of ‘continuous service greater than 5 years and up to 10 years’ to be qualified for monetary payment in addition to ‘Testimonial of Service’, which is the only package available for those who were in ‘continuous service up to 5 years’, under the company gratuity that the payment already paid to the Claimant was a mistake and it was because of the discovery of the error that the Defendant refused to pay the balance and also seeks refund of it.
Counsel to the firm further argued that the Claimant’s resignation becomes effective on date of receipt of the letter of resignation by the employer, and as such, the correct effective date of the Claimant’s resignation is June 14 2013 (submission date), and not the 1st October 2008 contained in the resignation letter that the Claimant’s case lacks merit and should be dismissed while upholding the counter-claim for refund of the sum already paid to the Claimant in error.
Counsel to the claimant U. U Njoku, Esq contended that the Defendant failed to tender its payroll to disprove that the Claimant was no longer in its pay roll as at 1 October 2013 urged the court to so hold and grant the reliefs sought.
Delivering judgment after careful evaluation of the submissions of both counsel and the processes filed, Justice Ogbuanya held that where date is not provided in the resignation, it takes immediate effect upon receipt of resignation, but when effective date is provided, it becomes effective on the last day of the notice period.
“I also note that it is part of the court’s equitable jurisdiction to preserve earned benefits, particularly those of pecuniary nature, and court usually tilts towards resolving such emerging controversy in favour of the beneficiary rather than in favour of one trying to take away or expropriate the benefit.
“From the tenor of the above provisions of the company Gratuity Policy, I find that once an employee attains 5 years of continuous service with the defendant, such an employee shall/must be entitled to not only cash payment as gratuity but also other testimonials and certificate of appreciation and or asset gift.
“In the circumstance of the claimant, I find that he has attained 5 years of continuous service with the defendant and there was no evidence disputing that he resigned willfully and there was no evidence of any skirmish of probe or low performance tainting his voluntary resignation. I so hold.” Justice Ogbuanya ruled.
In all, the court dismissed the counterclaim for lacking merit.
Lagos commissioner, Ajibola Ponnle’s rising profile
Ajibola Yewande Olufunke Ponnle is the Lagos State Commissioner for Establishments, Training and Pensions.
Until her appointment, she was the Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management, the industry regulator of the profession of Human Resource Management in Nigeria.
Born on the 9th of September, 1973, she has 25 years uniquely diverse professional experience. Building on her B.Sc. in Economics from the University of Ibadan and a M.Sc. in Organisational Psychology from the University of London, she gained key skills in the fields of finance, strategy, organizational development and human resource management, with a specialisation in executive/leadership and team coaching.
She is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria, Associate of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria and an International Coach Federation Accredited Professional Coach.
Mrs Ponnle started her career in 1994 with Arthur Andersen (now KPMG), thereafter, joined British American Tobacco as one of the founding pre-merger staff and left as a member of both the Finance and Marketing Senior Management teams. In 2004, she became an entrepreneur, setting up a series of companies including TeamBuilding Africa Consultancy, the regional representative of Team Building USA where she was at the forefront of shaping the experiential team development industry in Nigeria, serving also as visiting faculty on the Executive Management Programme at Lagos Business School. In 2015, she pioneered the establishment of the Nigeria Chapter of International Coach Federation (ICF) and served as the Founding Chapter President, a Trustee and a member of ICF EMEA regional leadership team.
She became the first Nigerian to earn the ICF Professional Certified Coach accreditation and also the first Core Energy Coach and Energy Leadership Master Practitioner in the country. In recognition of her contribution to the development of professional coaching in the region, she was selected as one of five founding members of the Africa Executive Coaching Council.
In January 2017, Ajibola launched the Centre for Core Coaching, dedicated to certifying professional life and corporate coaches, becoming the first programme in West Africa developed to meet the International Coach Federation accredited coach training standards. Ajibola is a seasoned learning facilitator and international speaker. A visionary, change champion and consummate professional who is fully committed to pursuing the ‘Human Agenda’ in the nation.
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