N5bn Gulped By 333 Dead Niger Ghost Workers

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Governor Sani Bello of Niger State


By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna


As many as 333 dead persons have so far been discovered to be on the nominal roll of the Niger State Government and the lot are paid a monthly wage bill of N270 million as salaries.
In the last two years, the state government said it has committed over N5 billion in payments of salaries to these dead persons whose names appear as civil servants employed by the state.
In two years, about N5 Billion was stolen in the names of these ghost workers.
The irony of this, is that these three hundred and thirty three certified “dead civil servants” have been drawing salaries unfailingly for the past two years.
The state government had recently raised a committee to verify workers on its nominal roll.
Chairman of the Screening Committee set up by the state government to fish out the ghost workers from the state civil service who is also Commissioner for Works, Engineer Ibrahim Mohammed Panti disclosed that the discovery was very revealing.
Panti spoke in an interview. He said the thorough screening was still ongoing even as confirmed that that more revelations were still being expected in the days ahead.
He said those mostly involved were Account Officers and other staff from the state Ministry of Health adding that they were among the eighty civil servants sacked penultimate week ago.
“Out of the purported 27,000 civil servants on the payroll of the Niger state government, only 15,907 of them have been profiled as bonafide and genuine employees of the state.
Chairman of the committee said “there were 3,923 workers from different Ministries, parastatals, departments and agencies who were still having pending issues and were currently being investigated”.
The committee Chairman said these set of people had entered the state civil service with fictitious certificates and their names were smuggled onto the payroll of the state.
He expressed sadness that with the active connivance of some people and complicity of others, nepotism and corruption, “in the last two years, 333 dead civil servants who had been certified dead were still drawing salaries from the state government.
He declared however that such gargantuan frauds which had bled the finances of the state must stop.
Engineer Panti disclosed that another 1,029 civil servants whose names were on the state’s payroll, were yet to appear for screening adding that by Friday, (today) which is the end of the screening, they will be officially declared as ghost workers if they refuse to appear before the screening committee.
The Commissioner disclosed that all the state’s civil service rules of engagement were duly followed before those who were found wanting were dismissed.
“All those involved have given confessional statements on their involvement in the fraud and officials of Nigeria Labour Congress in the state were aware of this development,” Panti revealed.
He said besides being dismissed, all those found guilty would also be prosecuted. He pointed out that “the present administration in the state was determined to make the phenomenon of ghost workers a thing of the past.
He said the sharp practices uncovered were “too weighty to be swept under the carpet” hence the government would deal with the problem headlong.                     

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