Sets up Special Courts
Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
The Bayelsa State Government tuesday said it was withholding the salaries of 4,204 suspected payroll fraudsters throughout the eight local government areas for the month of October 2017.
Rear Admiral John Jonah, who heads the State Civil Service Reforms Committee, told journalists that 1, 329 of the affected workers are from the local councils; 2,184 from State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) and 707 from the pension payroll.
Flanked by the heads of the security agencies in the state, Jonah noted that those recruited without authorisation from the relevant agencies will also be affected.
He listed the persons to include those working with computer-generated certificates; those receiving salaries from multiple agencies of government, those with irregular promotions, pension fraudsters and age falsifiers.
The deputy governor revealed that the panel investigating the payroll fraud also uncovered 34 persons who were found to have given themselves indefensible promotions in violation of civil service rules, adding that workers in level 4 in 2011 were found to have promoted themselves to Grade level 14 in 2012 with computer generated certificates.
However, he said the state government had established a judicial commission of inquiry headed by a retired judge, Justice Doris Adokeme, which would be open to hearing complaints from the affected workers on Monday.
â€œThere is massive payroll fraud in the state and the situation is such that are some earning double salaries; there are retired people in the payroll; those who promote themselves and several retired personnel. In fact over 700 retired personnel are still in the payroll.
â€œWith effect from today (yesterday), salaries of such suspected persons are suspended.
â€œFor those receiving salaries from multiple agencies, we will not pay you but If you can prove it that you are a genuine worker, your salary would be paidâ€, he said.
The state Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, who also reacted to threats by council workers to embark on a strike following the purge, stressed that the government would not be blackmailed.
The National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) had issued a three-day ultimatum over an alleged attempt by the state to sack 6,000 workers in the local government system.
He assured them that innocent persons would not be affected by the measures put in place to check the â€œendemic fraud and diversion of state resourcesâ€ and appealed to genuine workers of the local government areas not to entertain any fear.
Iworiso-Markson lamented that the efforts of a few criminal-minded individuals had been depriving the state of over N12 billion annually.