On Sunday, the Ministry of Finance said the list of those suspected to be involved in the manipulation of government payroll and reportedly injected ‘ghost’ workers had been sent to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for investigation and prosecution.
The development was confirmed by the Media Adviser to the Minister of Finance, Mr. Festus Akanbi, while responding to enquiries from one of our correspondents.
Akanbi stated, “The ministry has sent the list of those involved in the ‘ghost’ workers scam to the EFCC and the EFCC’s operatives are the ones investigating the matter.”
Findings revealed that while some of the perpetrators of the ‘ghost’ workers scam were being investigated, others had been charged to court by the anti-graft agency.
An official in the Ministry of Finance confided in The PUNCH that the prosecution of some of those that were charged to court was being slowed down owing to the fact that the court was in recess.
The Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit had, last week, said it found discrepancies on the payroll of the Federal Government’s Ministries, Agencies and Departments to the tune of N6.4bn.
The Head of the Continuous Audit Team, Mr. Mohammed Dikwa, had told journalists in Kano on the sidelines of the two-day National Revenue Retreat, organised by the Ministry of Finance, that the amount was the true state of their findings as of June 30, 2016.
President Muhammadu Buhari had set up the Continuous Audit Team to look into the finances of Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies to arrest the menace of ‘ghost’ workers, over payment of allowances, fraud and embezzlement in then MDAs.
Dikwa had said, “The Continuous Audit Team plans to conduct regular checks on the control and risk assessment of MDAs. We look at the records that are being kept to ensure transparency and accountability of the financial transactions carried over time.
“In terms of ‘ghost’ workers, we have found about 43,000 ghost workers so far and as of May 30, we had N4.2bn that is saved on a monthly basis.
“But as of June 30, we were able to make more recoveries of N2.2bn, which has led to an additional savings of N6.4bn monthly.”
Recently, the Adamawa State Government said the recent clean-up of its payroll, involving local government employees in the state, which uncovered 12,000 ‘ghost’ workers, saved the state government N500m.
The state Commissioner for Finance, Mahmood Yunusa, who made the disclosure in Yola, the state capital, stated that the state government derived the figure from the report submitted by the committee which carried out the verification.
He said, “According to the report submitted to the state government by the Staff Verification Committee, it said N500m has been saved. This is the amount which could have gone into lining the pockets of ‘ghost’ workers.”
He, however, admitted that the amount was fluid since there might have been some genuine workers whose names could have been omitted.
The state government had alleged that the state verification had uncovered 12,000 ‘ghost’ workers in the state, which had been denied by some union officials.
Also, a total of 3,916 ‘ghost’ workers were uncovered in Enugu State.
The discovery followed a staff audit conducted in the 17 local government areas in the state.
The audit verified the number of workers employed in all the councils, including teachers.
Presenting the report of a verification panel to Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, the Speaker, Enugu State House of Assembly, Edward Ubosi, who headed the committee, said the discovery of the ‘ghost’ workers saved the state N161.4m monthly.