Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: Senate Reverses Self, Discharges Arrest Order On IGI MD, Others

Abuja — SIX days after the Senate issued warrant of arrests on the Managing Director and management of Industrial and General Insurance Company, IGI, the upper legislative chamber has revoked the order.

Chairman, Senate Panel probing the Pensions scam, Senator Aloysius Etok had on Wednesday last week ordered the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Abubakar to bring them in handcuffs tomorrow, Tuesday at 3pm following alleged failure to pay pensioners of Nigerian Postal Service, NIPOST and other agencies of government.

Senator Etok who is also the Chairman, Senate Committee on establishment, public service, states and local government administration, said yesterday that the arrest warrant was vacated when the Senate discovered that the IGI boss and the management staff of the company did not get formal invitation to appear before the Senate Joint Committee on Tuesday, May 15, 2012, before the order was issued same day.

The order to cancel the warrant which was issued on Friday with reference number NASS/S/JCPI/WRT/IGP/W/07 was signed by Senator Alloysious Etok and with this development, the arrest warrant earlier issued by the committee has been cancelled and withdrawn.

Etok said in the order that in view of "the execution of the warrant issued against him in pursuant of section 89(d), an order of discharge is hereby issued. Mr Rotimi Fashola, the acting managing director of IGI should report to the committee on invitation forthwith."

The committee has however invited IGI formally to appear before it on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 for what it described as an "interactive session". The IGI team is expected to be led by Fashola, as the Chief Executive Officer, Remi Olowude, has been overseas since Tuesday, May 8, 2012 for his long scheduled annual medical check-up.

After the order by the Senate that the Managing Director and management staff be handcuffed, the company through the Acting Managing Director, Rotimi Fashola wrote to the Senate Committee that IGI never received any formal letter of invitation before the order that the Inspector General of Police handcuff them to the National Assembly.

The letter read, "We write in respect of developments at the on-going public hearing on various Federal Government pension schemes being conducted by your Committee at the Senate.

"More specifically, we understand from newspaper reports that you have issued a warrant for the arrest of our Executive Management staff for purportedly failing to appear before the Senate Committee on Establishment & Public Service on Tuesday May 15, 2012 in respect of the administration of the NIPOST pension fund, of which IGI Plc is the lead underwriter.

"With due respect, we wish to respond as follows: IGI did not receive any formal invitation from the Senate Joint Committee to appear before it on Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"Before this meeting, the Senate Committee had summoned us twice and we had appeared before you on similar Pensions issues of other agencies of the Federal Government. In all these meetings, objective consideration was given to our submissions and we were discharged.

"Only a verbal invitation was extended to IGI by NIPOST to be in attendance. This was less than 24hours before the meeting with your Committee. (In actual fact, we believe that NIPOST officials merely used their discretion to invite us)

"Despite the late and informal notification, our Schedule Manager on NIPOST Pensions Scheme in Abuja was asked by Management to cause appearance for IGI. When the name of IGI Plc was mentioned, he sought to make clarifications on some salient issues, but was disallowed.

"With respect to the meeting of Tuesday, May 15, 2012 there seemed to be a communication gap between the committee and our organization, and we pray that we both ensure that such a gap does not exist between us in the future. Our organization has high regard for the Senate and had never ignored any call to appear before it.

As a responsible corporate organization with eminent board and management members IGI Plc will always remain in the vanguard of the observance of the rule of law and the promotion of global best practice.

"At the moment, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the company is currently outside the country, for his long scheduled appointments, and he has travelled since Tuesday, May 8, 2012. The Deputy Managing Director, Mr. Rotimi Fashola who is currently the Acting Managing Director will make a formal appearance at the Committee sitting on Tuesday, 22 May, 2012 on this matter.

"We believe that our voluntary acceptance of the Committee's invitation to the sitting will cause the Committee to vacate its earlier order of arrest as reported by the newspapers, as this is already doing a lot of irreparable damage to our global corporate image, personal reputations of individuals connected with IGI Plc including the flag of Nigeria that the company is flying across Africa.

"We look forward to contributing to the Senate Committee's drive to evolve a more efficient system of Pension Administration in Nigeria."

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