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Union petitions FG over NSITF illegal recruitment, staff demotion, unremitted deductions

The Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions (ASSBIFI), Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) chapter, has petitioned the federal government over…

The Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions (ASSBIFI), Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) chapter, has petitioned the federal government over the demotion of junior workers, secret recruitment and failure to remit deducted pension of workers in the last two years.

In a petition to the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, the union alleged that the NSITF management demoted over 5,000 workers to cut costs but secretly recruited management-level staff.

Copies of the petition were sent to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and the Director General of the Pension Commission (PENCOM), among others.

The petition was jointly signed by the President of ASSBIFI, Bala T. Tijani, and General Secretary, Abdulkadir Isa, as well as the Chairman, of the National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institution Employees (NUBIFIE), Opeouluwa Ogunfowote, and secretary, Wenzamma Simon.

“Over 5,000 staff members of the fund were demoted to their previous grade levels in an exercise expected to “adjust the structure” of the fund but rather recruited staff mostly at management levels in a process that fell short of all standards as provided in section 4.5 (j)(i) &(ii) of the Staff Condition of Service and amplified in the Public Service Rules.

“Furthermore, we wish to draw your attention that our management has failed to remit the pension contributions deducted from our salaries for over two years. This act not only violates the provisions of the Pension Reform Act S11 (5-7), but it also jeopardises the financial security and future well-being of employees.

“The gravity of this offence attracts a penalty and we seek its application as Section 11 (6) of the Pension Reforms Act 2004 states that ‘any employer who fails to remit the contributions within the time prescribed shall, in addition to making the remittance already due, be liable to a penalty to be stipulated by the commission. See attached (Appendix II),” the petition read in parts.

The union said it exhausted all industrial relations tools in a diplomatic manner but to no avail and that they trust that the Head of Service of the Federation would address their petition with the urgency and seriousness it deserves.

When Daily Trust visited the headquarters of NSITF in Abuja, for the management’s reaction on the issues raised by the workers, especially on the alleged secret recruitment, the spokesperson of the agency, Mrs Ijeoma Oji-Okoronkwo, directed one of our correspondents to the Human Resources Department.

She said the General of Manager, Human Resource Department, Mr Emeka Offor, would be in the best position to offer detailed explanations on the alleged secret recruitment carried out in the agency.

But when Daily Trust contacted Offor, he referred our reporter back to the spokesperson of the agency.

Further efforts to get Offor to speak proved abortive as he hung up his phone immediately after our correspondent asked him again about the issue.

He has also yet to react to a text message sent to him seeking formal explanations on the matter at the time of filing this report.

However, when Mrs Oji-Okoronkwo was called back, she simply said, “On other issues raised, I can tell you that the fund followed due processes. In fact, the union or workers levelling allegations were part of the meetings where some agreements were reached.

“But on the recruitment, the GM, HR Department will offer better explanations.”

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