Sierra Leone | Senior Pension Officials Sacked

 Three top Sierra Leonean pension officials, including the Social Security chief, were stripped of their posts late Thursday, April 17, a State House press release said.

The shakedown at the national agency, which is responsible for providing pension benefits for more than a million workers and retirees, comes four months after the Accounts of Sierra Leone reported that "governance, control and asset valuation in NASSIT should be a major concern for parliamentarians and all citizens.”

Thursday’s release said that following a meeting held between President Ernest Bai Koroma, cabinet ministers, and the chairman of the Board of the National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT), the president had decided to effect changes in the top management of the Trust.

“The following officials of NASSIT are relieved of their duties with immediate effect,” the statement said.

“Mr. Samuel Bangura, Director General
Mr. Gibril Saccoh, Deputy Director-General (Membership, Finance, Systems and Technology
Mr. Idris Turay, Director, Investments and Projects”

In this 2010 photo, Sam Bangura (right) inspects a construction site with NASSIT executives including Joseph Mans, (left) now interim director general of the pensions agency.

Joseph Sedu Mans, the deputy director general, administration, human resources, public affairs and customer services, was appointed interim director general, the release also said.

Mans, who was recently pursuing a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Sierra Leone, joined NASSIT in 2010. He has more than 17 years experience in human resource management.

As head of NASSIT’s human resources department, Mans’s role was to reform organizational structure. He also coordinated training, policy, planning and ensured that the Trust complied with labor and industrial relations laws.

Last January, Mans is reported to have addressed sensational claims of fraud and social security identity theft at NASSIT. The Standard Times published allegations of a far-reaching scam implicating an official at the Accountant General’s Office, who was said to be one of the masterminds. The paper also said that the identities of dead Sierra Leoneans with data held in government records by the social security administration, were used to get improper payments. The paper later reported the same month that at an Executive Committee meeting also held in January, Mans acknowledged that improper use had been made of index cards.  Mans reportedly said identity thieves had presented those cards to NASSIT cashiers on the “apparent authority” of dead pensioners.

Twelve months later, in December 2013, Audit Service Sierra Leone released its report singling out Bangura for criticism and questioning the governance and control of NASSIT. The report found “fundamental problems in processing and paying of retirement benefits.” The auditors also noted that "the systems and procedures by which NASSIT collects contributions, pays benefits and the manner in which Trust funds have been invested needs to be considered as a matter of urgency.

"Deficiency in these systems would seriously affect the capability of the Trust in achieving its statutory mandate," the report said.

Since the Audit Report published its recommendations, speculation had swirled that a probe into the management of NASSIT may result in the sacking of Bangura, who his critics perceived as lacking the experience to manage the top agency. He was appointed to the post in 2009.


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