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COVID-19: NSITF officials evade arrest

Senior officials of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), on Wednesday, evaded arrest after they were found to have breached COVID-19 guidelines at the…

Senior officials of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), on Wednesday, evaded arrest after they were found to have breached COVID-19 guidelines at the venue of a promotion examination in Abuja.

There was pandemonium at the New M & M Event Centre adjacent Nixon Luxury Hotel, Area 11, Abuja, venue of the examination, when the Federal Capital Territory Administration ((FCTA) Task Force on Enforcement of COVID-19 Protocols stopped the exercise.

The task force led by its Head of Media and Enlightenment, Mr Ikharo Attah, stopped the examination from holding, citing concerns over violations of COVID-19 safety protocols.

However, there was resistance from the union members of NSITF, insisting that the protocols were being followed. They insisted that their General Manager, Health, Safety and Environment and other top management staff, who organised the examination would not be arrested.

Some of the NSITF staff nearly mobbed a police officer, ASP Abubakar Sanni, who insisted the workers must leave the venue immediately and that the management staff should follow the task force to the Eagle Square to face a mobile court.

Mr Attah explained that the examination was stopped because the NSITF did not obtain permit to hold the exercise, and that the agency also failed to control the crowd.

He said, “The management insisted they got permission to hold the examination but they failed to provide proof of such permission. We demanded evidence and they couldn’t provide it, so we asked them to disperse and go home, but that the most senior person, Mr Tesh Kibikiwa, General Manager, Health, Safety and Environment, should come with us and make further explanation.

“But to our shock, while the entire staff agreed and were very cheerful that the task force saved them from contracting COVID-19 due to crowdedness, some of the labour union members insisted that we can’t go with him.

“Initially, he pleaded with us that he wanted to use his car to follow us on health grounds; which we granted, but the labour union prevented him from following us.

“We waited at the gate for almost two hours, we couldn’t see him and we went round everywhere, we couldn’t find him and we were shocked that the man and one other director jumped through the fence and ran away to escape arrest.”

Some staff who were happy the exercise was disrupted, said over 1,200 staff were sitting for the promotion examination which was supposed to have been held about two years ago.

A source who craved anonymity said staff from Abuja Zone, comprising Kogi, Nasarawa, Niger and Kwara states, converged on the venue.

After screening the staff for hours in a bid to identify the culprits who helped the management staff evade arrest, the task force impounded a Toyota Land Cruiser and towed it to the Eagle Square.

Meanwhile, a mobile court sitting at the Eagle Square has unsealed Wuse and UTC markets and Murg Plaza after payment of N50,000 fine each. The markets and plaza were sealed up on Monday for violating COVID-19 guidelines.

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