Salary Scam: Benue Uncover N3.5B Fraud

Benue State Government has uncovered a N3.5 billion scam in the payment of salaries to workers in the state.

 This was disclosed by the Tertsegha Ikyaabo-led salary Verification  committee yesterday in Makurdi. 

The Committee said it uncovered another N3,514,918,099. 61 billion fraud in the payment of salaries at the state level. 

The amount was uncovered after a verification exercise carried out in seven Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs of government, with a staff population of 8,913. 

The exercise was the second phase and covered June 2015 to April 2017, after the first phase where N1.4b was discovered to have been wrongly paid to some workers when 10,300 staff were verified in 60 MDAs from June 2015 to October 2016.

 Presenting the report to Governor Samuel Ortom and other executive members during the State Executive Council meeting, Chairman of the committee, a retired Permanent Secretary, Mr. Tertsegha Ikyaabo said the amount covered four categories of workers.

According to him, N301,666,380.36 million was wrongly paid to absentee workers who never showed up for verification exercise and in most cases, were not recognised by the management.

The report also revealed that N619,617,695.87 million was wrongly expended on retired or due to retire but still on the payroll category, while those placed on wrong salaries or collecting unmerited allowances gulped N2,502,027,918.31 billion. Irregular career progression and contract appointments without requisite professional and academic qualifications based on various service schemes led to total excess payment of N91,606,105.07 million.

 The committee Chairman presented three volumes of the report to Governor Ortom with findings and recommendations and prayed God to grant him wisdom and the political will to fully implement the recommendations contained in the report.

 Receiving the report, Governor Ortom described delayed salary payment as a thorn in the flesh of his administration which needed drastic approach, stressing that the volume of work was a demonstration of commitment and dedication by the committee members.

 The Governor encouraged members of the committee to carry out the third and final phase of the exercise which covers local government staff and primary school teachers, even as he urged the committee not to hesitate when called upon to help in the implementation of the report.