Payment to another 800 ex-employees of MDAs stopped

By Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is currently investigating 196 foreign service officers (ex-diplomats) who have continued to receiving salaries after exiting the federal service.

The federal government also disclosed that in  the course of  its routine audit assignment, the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA) stopped the salaries of over 800 ex-employees of the government who had continued to draw monthly salaries even after exiting the federal service as well as removed over 50,000 ghost workers from the federal payroll.

PICA was said to have discovered that 196 Foreign Service officers continued to receive salaries after exiting the federal service, with the sum of 192 million reportedly collected by the officers in question as salaries even after leaving the service.

“The case was handed over to the EFCC for further investigation and recovery of the aforementioned funds on completion of the investigation,” she said.

The Special Adviser (Media) to the Minister of Finance, Mr. Oluyinka Akintunde, in what he listed as the notable achievements of his principal, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, in the last two years, said the minister was instrumental to the establishment of PICA, described as “a critical initiative in the implementation of a Continuous Audit Programme.”

Akintunde stated that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had on  March 9, 2016, approved the establishment of PICA to ensure full accountability of all public funds expended under President Muhammadu Buhari Administration.”

Since its establishment, the Continuous Audit Team, he stressed, had undertaken series of investigations and recoveries for the government, including infractions by the staff of Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD), verification of subsidy claims, personnel costs to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), and ghost workers scammers.

He also noted that another major initiative of the minister was the setting up of the Efficiency Unit (E-Unit), adding the federal government currently saves at least N15 billion annually from the services of the E-UNIT.

Although the National Assembly has declared subsidy on premium motor spirit (PMS) illegal, Akintunde listed the verification of subsidy claims as one of Adeosun’s achievements.

He stated: “In its efforts to ensure steady supply of petroleum products nationwide, the federal government took measure aimed at settling outstanding debts owed to members of the Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPMA).

“An inter-agency committee under the leadership of PICA was set up to verify the claims. Other members of the committee are the Nigeria Customs Service, Debt Management Office, DPRRA and BOF. The committee verified and recommended some payments to members of DAPMA and has thus far made remarkable savings for the federal government,” he disclosed.

According to him,  72 marketers  had been verified with total claims of N45,999,999,865.98 and a total saving of N887,108,438.31.

Another achievement, the minister’s media aide said was the reduction in personnel cost to ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government.

“Prior to the establishment of PICA, the personnel cost across Federal MDAs was high, making it difficult to channel enough funds to develop needed critical infrastructure.

“The intensive and diligent forensic audit of Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information (IPPIS) and nominal roll carried out by PICA led to monthly reduction of personnel cost (salaries) from 151 billion in February 2016 to 138 billion by August, 2016.

“Similarly, the exercise led to reduction in pension cost from 15 billion to 14.5 billion monthly. This reduction has since been sustained through efforts of the Honorable Minister of Finance,” he said.

The elimination of ghost workers which was touted by the previous administration as a major achievement, was also listed as one of Adeosun’s highpoints.

“In the course of the period through its routine audit assignment, PICA has stopped the salaries of over 800 ex-employees, who had continued to draw monthly salaries even after exiting the Federal Service as well as removed over 50,000 ghost workers from the federal payroll.

“The details of the affected employees who had already collected the sum of 34 million before discovery have been handed over to the EFCC for investigation and prosecution.

For the first time in the history of this nation, the Federal Government is prosecuting the payroll fraudsters who created fictitious names and accounts. About nine principal suspects were on November 1, 2017 charged before Justice U.P. Kekemeke of Court 14.

“Those arraigned were Usman Aliyu Dayo, Osuntope Opeyemi, Johnson Adedokun, Ojeifo Robert Sylvanus, Oyebade Ebenezer Ayodeji, Florence Olaolu Dada, Olaolu Haruna Dada, Blessing Ejeh and Aderibigbe Isaac Taiwo.

The suspects are employees of the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Federal Ministry of Environment, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Federal Civil Service Commission,” he said.

Akintunde also disclosed that on payroll shortfall verification that the federal government in 2016 received claims of shortfalls in personnel cost from various MDAs across the country.

“To address these claims, PICA raised teams comprised of over 300 accountants, auditors and administrative officers to undertake the verification of the shortfalls. To accurately profile the actual payroll costs of each of the agency, PICA designed a template to capture the vital financial information/data required for the exercise,” he said, adding that in all, over N30 billion was saved on account of the audit exercise.

“However, it is important to note that the shortfall across most of the MDAs visited was as a result of shortfall in personnel cost in 2016 Appropriation.

“ Others such as the Nigeria Army were due to the recruitment of about 10,000 soldiers based on presidential directive while shortfall in Defence Mission was on account of foreign exchange differentials,” the media aide said.