By Clement Nwoji
The National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), the industry regulator, dissociates self from any complicity with the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), which is currently facing investigations over shady insurance transactions by it.
BPE is responsible for implementing the Federal Government’s policy on privatisation and commercialisation.
But the agency is presently being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), an anti-fraud umpire, over alleged fraudulent insurance related transactions in respect of a N27 billion, defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) insurance payment in 2014.
However, the Acting Director General, Dr. Vincent Akpotaire, clarified that the Bureau neither initiated nor received the much publicised N27 billion insurance deal for the PHCN staff.
In a statement on Wednesday, he also denied official knowledge of any investigation into the payment of the N27 billion by the EFCC.
Besides, the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee headed by Hon. Adekunle Akinlabi, which is charged with investigating insurance frauds in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) between 2013 and 2016, had summoned BPE over perceived irregularities in its insurance processes.
The House had accused the Bureau of breaching the Public Procurement Act 2007, by merely selecting insurers instead of advertising for insurers.
The Committee also queried the modalities for the selection of some insurance and brokerage firms for its insurance policies, and asked BPE to explain the criteria for selecting a single company as lead underwriter and broker.
The Bureau in its statement clarified that the request for payment of the insurance premium was submitted by the Ministry of Power to the National Council on Privatisation (NCP), with the Bureau as the Secretariat, to deliberate on.
“The payment was approved by relevant organs and paid by the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) in 2014,” it said, noting that although the payment was considered a transaction related expense for PHCN staff, it was not for staff or properties of the Bureau.
Commenting on the BPE’s insurance transactions, NAICOM, also an adviser to the Government on insurance matters, said the BPE did not seek its advice or consult for professional guides.
A reliable top official of NAICOM told The Guardian that BPE is running its insurance processes without reference to the Commission, adding that now that the issue has been blown up in the open, it was willing to make presentations when invited.
According to the source, “We do not know anything about their insurance processes. They don’t consult us or seek our advice. But in any case, since they (BPE) is making their presentation, when we are invited, we will come and state whatever we know.”