By Festus Ahon
ASABA—Delta State Government has foiled an attempt by some persons to defraud it of over N7 billion meant for January salaries of civil servants in the state.
A dependable government source who pleaded anonymity confirmed that the money was meant for staff salaries. Declining to say the exact figure, the source said, “What is involved is about N7 billion, that is the much I can tell you.”
Meanwhile, the state Commissioner for Finance, Olorogun David Edevbie, in a statement after the State Executive Council meeting in Asaba, said that the swift intervention by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa “saved the state from being defrauded during the payment of January, 2016 salaries.”
Edevbie, in the statement read by the state Commissioner for Information, Mr Patrick Ukah, said: “Salaries for ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) as well as the Polytechnic staff, were delayed due to an alert on February 3, 2016 of attempt to defraud the state through the payment of salaries.
“The Permanent Secretary cum Accountant-General, on receiving the alert, immediately informed the governor who directed that the security agencies in the state and the bank be informed immediately.
“He (Okowa) also directed the Permanent Secretary/Accountant-General to put in place, additional control measures to forestall future attempts on the account.”
Disclosing that arrests have been made, the Finance Commissioner, said: “This administration has zero tolerance for fraud and we advise all who have such intent to desist forthwith.”
While enjoining Deltans to always report unscrupulous activities for appropriate actions, Edevbie said that Governor Okowa’s administration was committed to credible, transparent and accountable stewardship to the citizens.
Contacted, the State Police Public Relations Officer, Mrs Celestina Kalu, said she did not have details of the matter but would reach out once she was properly briefed on the incident.
However, a senior police officer who did not want his name in print, said seven persons had been arrested in connection with the fraud, adding that the suspects had made useful statements.
Noting that all those involved in the crime would be prosecuted accordingly, the source said the police was on the trail of other suspects.