In Abuja, Nigeria – The outrage over the menace of ghost worker fraud reverberated in the Senate on 11 February, when Nigerian Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun, revealed a shocking report showing, with the help of the Biometric Verification Number (BVN) policy, that one civil servant alone was collecting 20 salaries every month.
She told the Senate Committee on Finance that the 23,000 ghost workers discovered in the Federal Civil Service would be handed over to EFCC for prosecution.
The adoption of BVN in processing salary payments by the federal government had stunningly thrown up no fewer than 23,000 ghost names on its payroll, a development that raised concerns about the huge amount of monies that may have been stolen from the nation’s coffers through such leakages in the federal civil service.
“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. BVN links all the accounts of that person, so we are seeing in our payroll 20 names to one BVN number,” Adeosun said during a budget defence session by the Federal Ministry of Finance before the committee.
It is no surprise the awestruck Senate committee fully agree with the minister and directed the attorney-general of the federation of Nigeria, Abubakar Malami, to begin prosecution and sanctioning of all people, firms and banks that aided the inclusion of the 23,000 ghost workers on federal government’s payroll.
This was issued personally by the chairman of the finance committee, Senator John Enoh, directing the AGF, Malami and Minister Adeosun to fastback the act of prosecuting firms, banks and people linked to the 23,000 ghost worker scam. As well as recovering all the funds fraudulently received through the ghost workers’ accounts.
The Minister assured the Senate committee that the 23,000 ghost workers discovered in the Federal Civil Service would be handed over to Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), even as she added that banks and firms that connived with civil servants to pad the federal government payroll would also be prosecuted.
“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 end of the investigation. As we speak now, we have about 23,000 that we need to investigate: those whom either the BVN is linked to multiple payments or the name on the BVN account is not consistent with the name on our own payroll.
“If we are able to get everybody onto the BVN platform, we will be able to save a considerable amount of personnel cost. Not only will we remove those people from our payroll, but we will also be going after the banks involved to collect our money.
“So, some of the information that we are getting is how long has this person been on the pay roll, how much has he been getting.
She said the country is positive that through the BVN policy, more ghost workers will be scrapped off the federal government payroll.
“My job is to get them off our payroll; I do not want to pay them anymore, and whatever they have taken must come back; so we are going to hand our files on to EFCC (Economic & Financial Crime Commission) and the relevant agencies.