By Chinonso Alozie, Owerri
The committee on the verification of staff salaries of the unified local government staff yesterday submitted their report to Imo state governor, Hope Uzodinma, pointing out that they discovered padding of salaries as well as pension to the tune of N9 million in some local government areas.
The submission of the report from the head of the committee, the permanent secretary of the local government service commission, Mrs. Rosemary Izuogu, took place at the Government House in Owerri.
The Mrs. Izuogu’s committee said: “The committee on the verification of Local government staff has submitted its report to the Imo state government revealing that clear cases of payroll fraud ranging from illegal employments and ghost workers as well as massive padding of salaries in every local government running into hundreds of millions of Naira.
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“The committee in their findings discovered that there were irregularities in recruitment of many staff in the local government service, ghost workers syndrome, padding of salaries in several LGAs in the range of N5, N6, and N9 million running to the tune of hundreds of millions.
“The committee expressed optimism that the findings and implementation of recommendations would help in actualizing the 3R programs of the administration – recovery, rehabilitation, and reconstruction.”
Happy over the report of the committee, Governor Uzodinma, received it saying: “I commend the committee for a work well done in fishing out ghost staff, who numbered 403, and exposing several cases of salary paddings to the tune of hundreds of millions thereby saving the state her commonwealth which had been going down the drain.
“We are determined to automate payment process in the local government service, where only those confirmed as workers will be paid and those who are fraudulently receiving pensions whereas no employment history or evidence or record showing that they worked for the government could be found.
“We are filtering the system, we will drop as many as those who are not certified as having worked for the government. Pension is for those who worked for the government.
“The verification became necessary when on the assumption of office we observed that about 85% of monies coming to the local councils as spent on salaries and nothing was functioning.
“The committee said the rate of payroll fraud in the LGA system was mind-boggling even those who had retired from service over four months back and were still receiving salaries had the courage to come for the verification exercise.”