A former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mr. Steve Oronsaye, has said he did not tamper with N6.5billion pensions fund, contrary to the allegation against him before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He said N10billion pension funds were intact when he left office at the expiration of his tenure in October, 2010.
He also said a permanent secretary oversaw all contracts relating to biometrics for pensioners in the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation (OHSCF) as the Accounting Officer.
In Oronsaye’s view, he is being haunted by some forces because he supported a separate agency for Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) since 2004.
He said some people had been unhappy that he wanted FIU excised from EFCC.
These are the highlights of Oronsaye’s submissions to the EFCC, which our correspondent obtained yesterday.
The source quoted Oronsaye as saying: “The EFCC operatives said I should explain the whereabouts of N10billion. They do not even know how the system operates. I told them I left the N10billion intact as at the time my tenure expired in October 2010.
“They said as pension funds were being paid to states, these states were ‘settling’ me in return. No state gave me any return on pension funds. I am a Christian; I believe in Christian doctrine. I did not tamper with pension funds. It is so sad that they have maligned my name.”
Oronsaye is said to be consulting. He plans to go to court to clear his name.
Oronsaye reportedly denied any relationship with a former Deputy Director of Pension in the Pension Unit of the OHCSF, Mrs. Phina Chidi.
Mrs. Chidi alleged that she had been keeping N500 million and $2 million traced to the accounts of Pam Investment Properties Limited in trust for Oronsaye in the last three years.
Oronsaye reportedly said: “This is someone I do not have her number let alone having anything to do with her. Why will someone keep $2million for me for three years and I did not call her once about the money?”
“He was said to have challenged the EFCC to screen his call logs and those of Mrs. Chidi in the last three years whether I had spoken with her or not.”
“Oronsaye was said to have denied using some companies siphon pension funds. As the Head of Service of the Federation, I was not the Accounting Officer. A Permanent Secretary, who was the Accounting Officer, was in charge of all contracts,” he was quoted saying.
“The only contract that came through my office was the initial biometrics project of N35million, which was handled by Innovative Solutions. Even though the contract was within my spending limit as the Head of Service, I notified the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP).
“And the contract was not inflated. When they had cause to extend the scope of work by some weeks, we only paid them extra working allowances,” he was quoted as saying.
Asked if he nominated Osarenkhoe Afe, an IT consultant, as a member of a “pension reform committee,” Oronsaye said no.
“I do not know Afe at all. When we were looking for whom to assist us in doing the initial biometrics, we discovered that he had the expertise, having done a similar job for an agency before.
“This is an expert whom I never met before and I had no personal relationship with. In fact, I had to look for his telephone contact when this issue cropped up.
“Yet, they said I nominated him into Pension Reform Committee. This man is an expert who got the job on merit.”
The former Head of Service said he should be praised for pension reforms instead of denting his image.
He added: “On the pension office, when I came in I realised we had problems. I single-handedly carried out a reorganisation of the pension office.
“The same Mrs. Chidi allegedly implicating me was one of those fingered in the pension funds fraud. Is this not a case of corruption fighting back?
“On our pension roll, we had about 106,000 people but we could only capture about 60,000. On the average, we were paying N1.5billion monthly. But having captured, we were paying about N300million.
“Yet, someone will stand up to say I was part of the pension fraud. I did not steal money when I was the Accounting Officer at the Presidential Villa. I was also at a time the Permanent Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Finance, I did not tamper with government funds and I left with a clean record. Some dirty people will now accuse me of diverting pension funds; it is so sad.”
About N5billion in bogus contracts were allegedly awarded and payments made between January 2009 and November 2010 while Oronsaye was in office.
The scandal was uncovered in the Pension Unit of the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF).
Also, four firms are being investigated by the EFCC on the scandal including Frederick Hamilton Global Limited; Xangee Technologies; Fatidek Venture; Obanlado Enterprises.