The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said in Abuja on Tuesday that it had detected 37,395 ghost workers on the payroll of the federal civil service.
The Acting Chairman of the commission, Mr Ibrahim Magu, announced the figure at an anti-corruption sensitisation programme.
Magu said that apart from the widespread procurement frauds in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), the issue of ghost workers was a source of serious concern for the commission.
He said that current investigations by the EFCC had revealed that the Federal Government lost about N1 billion to ghost workers recently.
“The EFCC has uncovered 37,395 ghost workers in the federal civil service. And investigation is still going on.
“Our investigations have so far revealed that the Federal Government has lost close to N1 billion to these ghost workers.
“The figure will definitely increase as we unravel more ghost workers buried deep in the federal civil service payrolls,’’ he said.
Magu also said that the commission had established a procurement fraud unit to handle the increasing number of petitions relating to violations of the public procurement laws.
He advised civil servants to avoid any acts in breach of public procurement, warning that violators risked terms of imprisonment and dismissal from service.
“In regard to procurement frauds, there has been a sharp rise in the number of petitions coming to the commission relating to violations of the Public Procurement Act 2007.
“That is what informed my setting up a procurement fraud unit which has since commenced investigations of procurement fraud cases with some of those cases already in courts.
“Let me warn that civil servants found guilty under the Public Procurement Act risk terms of imprisonment ranging from five years to 10 years and in addition may face dismissal from the service.
“The commission is determined, more than ever before, to rid all MDAs of all forms of fraudulent activities,’’ Magu said.
The chairman also said that the commission intended to place suggestion boxes at designated places for people to drop petitions and reports of corrupt practices to assist it in the fight against corruption.
The Permanent Secretary (Works and Housing), Alhaji Abubakar Magaji, in his paper, said that as the drivers of government policies, MDAs should be in the forefront of compliance to public service laws and regulations.
“It is rather sad that over time, the laws, regulations and standard practice governing the operations of the public service are being neglected and often abused, in many cases with impunity.
“The MDAs are expected to be in the forefront of compliance to extant laws and regulations because they collectively constitute the engine room of the government.
“They are responsible for the implementation of government policies and programmes.
“Therefore, the success or failure of such policies and programmes are fully on the shoulders of public officers,’’ he said.
Magaji said that the works and housing sectors had resolved to regularly organise interactive sessions to educate officers on the importance of compliance to extant laws, regulations and guidelines.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the programme was organised by the commission for workers in the works and housing sectors.
It featured paper presentations by staff of the EFCC on its legal and operational activities.