FG to prosecute 23,000 ghost workers, abetting banks

By The Citizen

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, yesterday said the Federal Government uncovered another batch of 23,000 ghost workers on its payroll.

The discovery, according to the minister, was made through the Integrated Payment and Personnel Information System, IPPIS, and Bank Verification Number, BVN.

The minister, who appeared before the Finance committee of the Senate to defend the 2016 budget appropriation of her ministry, threatened to punish banks found to have illegally increased wage bill by conniving with ghost workers to open salary accounts for them.

She said government would not only recover all it lost to the scam, but would also hand over the ghost workers to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for prosecution.

The minister said whereas only 295,000 civil servants were captured through IPPIS in five years, the application of BVN to the system had captured as many as 320,000 workers in just three months.

According to her, the continuous discovery of ghost workers in the civil service would save the nation huge sums of money, even as she assured that by June this year, all ghost workers would have been wiped out and every worker made IPPIS compliant.

'The IPPIS programme funded by World Bank started about five years ago and what it required was for every officer to come physically for biometric data capture. Over the five years, unfortunately, we had only been able to capture about 295,000 federal civil servants which represent less than 20 per cent of the total personnel on the federal payroll. We realised that if we can get more people on IPPIS, our salary costs will come down and so, we needed to get more people on IPPIS. 'So, I looked critically at it with the Director of IPPIS and we decided to change the strategy.

Rather than getting the person to come physically which has always been the problem, we will take the payroll that we have and the bank account of everybody who is being paid. So, from that bank account, we will get the BVN; from the BVN, we can get the biometric data so that had considerably accelerated the process of getting people unto IPPIS. 'I can tell you that within the last two months that we have been on this programme, we have been able to enroll 320,000 onto IPPIS using BVN, compared to 295,000 in five years. We are very confident with our programme that we will now be able to get every federally paid civil servant onto IPPIS by June. We are aggressively chasing after June,' she said.

Adeosun stated that the combination of BVN with IPPIS had brought about mind boggling revelations including the multiple appearances of some persons on federal government's payroll.

She threatened that anyone discovered by the applications would immediately have his or name expunged from the payroll and investigation into his personal details taking off immediately.

While promising that all the sums paid to the person so far would be recovered, she added that investigation of suspects would be concluded within 30 days.

The initiative was commended by the committee chairman who also advised the minister to ensure that the ministry does not only recover the money but to as well ensure that culprits are handed to anti-graft agencies for punishment. - National Mirror.