Non-remittance of funds: Reps threaten legal action against oil firms
The House of Representatives has called on major oil companies in Nigeria to ensure the remittance of their contributions to the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) to avoid legal action against them.
The Ad-hoc Committee investigating Non-Remittance of Contributions into NSITF by the Three Tiers of Government, their Parastatals, Public Corporations and Companies from 2010 to Date, made the call during its investigative hearing in Abuja on Monday.
Chairman of the committee, Rep. Sada Soli, said the companies should expedite action to rectify the breach and pay their backlog of contribution to the NSITF.
“In Nigeria, the Coal and Petroleum Sectors produced the highest case of fatality per injured person, which is about 16.6 per cent compared to 5.9 percent amongst woodworkers.
“I am therefore, calling on all major Oil companies particularly the NNPC and its subsidiaries, the greatest violators of this Act, to expedite action to rectify this breach and pay their backlog of contribution to the NSITF before legal action is taken against them.”
The legislator recalled that the House formed the ad-hoc committee in July to look into the critical problem of non-remittance with a view of finding lasting solutions.
According to him, the fact that government and all its agencies are guilty of this laxity is capable of giving the impression that we do not prioritise the social security and welfare scheme of workers.
He expressed disappointment at the non-remittance of contributions to the fund over the years by governments and many employers of labour, thereby, crippling its operations.
“This Ad-Hoc Committee and the National Assembly call on the Federal, States and Local Governments, their Agencies and Parastatals and Private Companies to immediately pay all contributions due to the NSITF in order not to jeopardise the noble objectives of establishing the Fund.”
He emphasised that the NSITF was set up to provide comprehensive compensation to workers who suffered from occupational diseases or sustained injuries arising from accidents at work place or in the course of employment.
“This is the principle behind the Employee’s Compensation Act of 2010, which provides a guaranteed and adequate compensation for all workers and their dependants for any death, injury, disease or disability in the course of their employment.
“This assistance is meant to be taken from the Solvent Compensation Fund which the worker and the employer are supposed to contribute into.
“It is, therefore, both a moral and legal responsibility for the government, and indeed all employers of labour to ensure that those who spend the best part of their lives working to contribute to the growth of our societies are not allowed to suffer neglect occupational diseases, injuries or death.”
Soli said the investigative hearing would identify the real causes behind non-remittances in the last one decade and how this could be immediately corrected.
Speaker of the House, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila charged the committee to identify factors mitigating against full compliance with the requirements of the law.
The speaker, who was represented by Majority Leader of the House, Hassan Dogowa, also urged the committee to make recommendations for the House to take necessary actions to achieve full compliance.
“If it requires that we amend the law, we will do so. If it requires that we work with the NSITF to improve on the internal regulatory framework, we will do that too.
“One thing is for certain, we will make sure that the rights of the Nigerian worker are respected and their interests protected.”
The speaker also said the committee should report to the House within the shortest possible time to “begin to act in whatever capacity is required of us’’.