Fraudulent federal civil servants may have defrauded the Federal Government of more than N5bn annually, estimates made by SUNDAY PUNCH have shown.
The minimum wage of a government worker is N18,000. This means that a worker earns a basic salary of N216,000 annually, excluding allowances.
The Federal Government has concluded plans to probe no fewer than 23,306 federal civil servants accused by an investigative panel of defrauding the government through organised salary frauds.
This means that the 23,306, if they earn the minimum wage of N18,000, may be defrauding their employers of about N419,508,000 monthly and N5,034,096,000 annually.
The government may have lost more than N5bn to salary frauds as senior officials, who earn much more than the minimum wage, are said to be involved in the scam.
The Senate had on Thursday declared its support for the move by the Ministry of Finance to prosecute civil servants found culpable in the payment of salaries and remuneration to the ghost workers over the years.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, Senator John Enoh, who said this at a budget defence session with the Ministry of Finance, asked the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, to ensure the immediate prosecution of the suspects being accused of alleged involvement in the scam.
Adeosun had disclosed that the discovery of the ghost workers was due to the registration of over 320,000 workers on the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System platform using their Bank Verification Numbers.
She said, “What the IPPIS-BVN registration has shown us has been a real revelation, we have identified that there are people who appear on our payroll multiple times. The BVN links all the accounts of that person, so we are seeing in our payroll 20 names to one BVN number.
“We have had a meeting on how we are going to clean them off. The process will be that we will suspend that person from the payroll pending the investigation. We will try as much as possible to conclude that investigation within 30 days so that innocent people do not suffer. But we really need to clean our payroll.”
An investigative committee had been set up to probe the alleged fraudulent payment of salaries to either ‘ghost’ workers or payments to multiple accounts created by the suspects in connivance with some banks.
The PUNCH had reported on February 5 that the preliminary report of the panel indicated that some banks would also be called to answer questions on the huge scam.
Over 300 accounts were said to have been opened in one of the banks in one day, while all the accounts had become inactive.
It was gathered that out of 312,000 civil servants, whose bank accounts had been checked so far in the exercise through the Bank Verification Number platform, the accounts of 23,306 workers had questionable transactions.
The exercise was said to have led to the discovery of a high level of irregularities in salary payment.[Punch]