From Dan Amasingha, Minna
A massive salary fraud of N672 million by a syndicate has been uncovered in the Niger State civil service.
The fraud, which has put the payment of June salaries on hold is being perpetrated by a sophisticated syndicate who inflate the monthly salary wage bill with ghost workers.
DAILY ASSET gathered that the bubble bursted when Governor Abubakar Sani Bello set up a Salary management committee to verify the actual number of civil servants in the state government payroll after an initial exercise handled by the state labour congress members failed to achieve the desired result.
The current committee which has a serving commissioner as the head made the mind blowing discovery when plans by the state government to reduce civil servants salaries as a result of the impact was rebuffed by Labour leaders in the state.
A source told DAILY ASSET that “we discovered that millions of naira are being paid monthly as fictitious salaries to non existing earners in the civil service.”
The Chairman Salary Management Committee and Commissioner for Works and Infrastructural development, Engr. Ibrahim Panti confirmed the development in a radio phone-in programme yesterday following the tension the non-payment of June salaries is causing in the state.
He lamented the high level of corruption and its tendencies in the civil service in the state as 98% of allocation goes in to salary payment leaving the state government with almost nothing for the development of other sectors which necessitated the new screening exercise.
The Salaries screening committee chairman, Engr. Panti expressed shock that results that 30% of the names in the official payroll of the state government invited for screening were never seen during the exercise, adding that also so many fake certificates some individuals were using for their current positions were further discovered from the exercise.
He said that “for example out of 1,000 invited between 600 to 700 came for the actual screening, while 100 failed to show up and out of 1,451 persons screened 461 is on hold, 21 of them were retirees and rejected while 259 did not appear for the exercise”.
“About 36,000 lists of civil servants was presented to the committee, when we started the screening we were able to bring it down to 27,000 and again to 25,000, we later discovered different serial numbers with the same BVN, repeated names with different bank accounts and fictitious allowances and salaries,” he stated.
He assured that those found wanting will surely face the wrath of the law according to the civil service rules and regulations as appropriate recommendations would be made to government in its report on financial of misappropriation of public funds.
Panti further revealed that the exercise was going smoothly despite threats from some quarters “however we cannot be deterred from doing the right thing”.
“In May 2019 what the state government received from federal allocation was a little above N3 billion, meanwhile, the civil servants took N2.7 billion as salaries leaving a balance of only about N50 million which goes to the politicians appointees,” he concluded.