When you’re caught pants down doing something you probably shouldn’t be doing, the honourable thing to do is be humble and show remorse.

There's a Place for Animals in the Nigerian Public Service

But for people in the Nigerian public service, animals have become the ultimate scapegoats for all manner of fraud. 

Animals want to have fun too?

In 2018, an audit found that ₦36 million had magically cat-walked out of the accounts of a Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) office in Benue State. When the EFCC identified the main suspect, she blamed a mysterious snake who conspired with her housemaid for the theft. 

There's a Place for Animals in the Nigerian Public Service

Shortly after, a former senator, Shehu Sani, speculated that monkeys raided the home of another senator and stole ₦70 million. It was more of a joke, but the public ran with it and it joined the collection of bizarre animal events in Nigeria.

And, of course, it’s impossible to forget President Buhari aka Travel Blogger’s brush with his own animal episode. When he returned from three months of medical leave in the United Kingdom in 2017, rats were presiding over the affairs of his office. This forced him to work from home for three months before remote work became a global phenomenon three years later.

There's a Place for Animals in the Nigerian Public Service

We can now add another animal to the collection in 2022

In 2013, the management of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) sent more than ₦17.2 billion into various untraceable accounts. The Office of the Auditor General of the Federation (OAuGF) audited the agency’s accounts in 2018 and found these shady transactions. In a sane world, these spendings were supposed to have supporting documents to justify the transfers, but auditors didn’t find any.

And this is where the Senate Public Accounts Committee (SPAC) stepped in. The committee called on present and past officials of the NSITF to explain what happened with the money. 

All the Senate needed to see were payment vouchers and supporting documents relating to the transfers. The absence of these means Nigerians would just have to accept the words of the NSITF that the fund was spent wisely.

Like on an owanmbe

Umar Abubakar was the managing director of the NSITF when the transfers were made in 2013 but he distanced himself from making any explanations because he wasn’t in office anymore when the audit happened in 2018. 

There's a Place for Animals in the Nigerian Public Service

Adebayo Somefun was the managing director during the 2018 audit and simply told the panel that the NSITF’s account section should be able to trace the documents.

ALSO READ: ₦80 Billion Fraud: Accountant-General Has Been Doing More Than Accounting

Enter the termites

Things only got interesting when the current managing director, Michael Akabogu, finally told the panel that the documents actually exist and there’s nothing shady going on. The only problem, according to him, was that the documents weren’t properly stored and had fallen victims to rain and termites. 

There's a Place for Animals in the Nigerian Public Service

How did that happen? Apparently, the NSITF kept the documents in a container that was abandoned in an isolated area at its Abuja office.

Does it sound fishy at all that the documents that should prove ₦17.2 billion worth of fraud didn’t happen nine years ago were left for termites to feast on? 

We’d like to hear from these termites what their interest is in a corruption probe of this magnitude. At least put them on trial for obstruction of justice or something.

What will happen now?

It just so happens that shady transfer of money isn’t the only thing that the audit turned up. Auditors also found that the NSITF routinely pays salaries to dead or retired staffers. 

There's a Place for Animals in the Nigerian Public Service

The NSITF is also under the microscope for buying vehicles and other properties without proper documentation.

The Senate committee asked the managing directors to reappear for another round of questioning in September to clear the air on these other allegations. And we imagine there are many animals in Nigeria right now living in dread of being accused of something they probably didn’t do.

There's a Place for Animals in the Nigerian Public Service

Or maybe these animals are actually as guilty as charged and are just preying on the public’s disbelief. And if we allow these animals to continue to get away with it, don’t be shocked when hyenas steal ballot boxes in 2023 or dogs drive dubious-looking bullion vans filled with money for vote-buying.

There's a Place for Animals in the Nigerian Public Service

ALSO READ: How to Get Away with $9.8 Million — the Andrew Yakubu Story



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