Bayelsa withholds salaries of 4,204 civil servants

Bayelsa Deputy Governor John Jonah

The Bayelsa State Government on Tuesday took the first major step to implement the comprehensive reforms in the state’s civil service.

Consequently, the government had withheld the October 2017 salaries of over 4,000 suspected ghost workers, according to Deputy Governor Gboribiogha John Jonah at a press conference in Yenagoa.

According to him, 1,329 of the affected workers are from the Local Government Areas; 2,184 from the State Universal Basic Education Board, the Primary School Education system and 707 from the Pension payroll.

The Deputy Governor, who spoke in the presence of the Commissioner of Police Amba Asuquo and the Director of the State Security Service in the state, also dropped the hint that all those who were recruited without authorisation from the relevant agencies would be affected.

Jonah listed the persons to include those working with computer generated certificates, those working and receiving salaries from multiple agencies of government, those enjoying indefensible promotions in contradiction to civil service rules, pension fraudsters and age falsifiers, among others.

He said that the panel investigating the payroll fraud also uncovered 34 persons who were found to have given themselves indefensible promotions in flagrant violation of civil service rules.

For instance, some workers in Level 4 in 2011 were found to have promoted themselves to Grade Level 14 in 2012 using computer generated certificates.

However, he said that the state government had established a Judicial Commission of Inquiry headed by a retired Judge, Justice Doris Adokeme, which would be open to hearing complaints from the affected workers on Monday.

He warned that legal consequences awaited anybody found to have gone to the Commission to make false claims.

The Deputy Governor warned that the state was determined ensure strict implementation of the findings of the panel and would not be deterred by any kind of blackmail from any quarters.

He lamented that it was only in the state that somebody would work for a day and expect to get salary for a month.

He said: “We have been carrying out comprehensive reforms not only at the councils but also at the secondary schools, parastatals, pension payroll, civil service, grade levels verification and others.

“There is massive payroll fraud in the state and the situation is such that there are some earning double salaries. There are retired people in the payroll; those who promoted themselves, and several retired personnel. In fact over 700 retired personnel are still in the payroll.

“With effect from today, salaries of such suspected persons are suspended.

“For those receiving salaries from multiple agencies, we will not pay you. But if you can prove it that you are a genuine worker, your salary would be paid.”

Earlier, in an interview with journalists in Yenagoa, the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson had stressed that the government would not allow a sustenance of the payroll roll fraud believed to have held down the state over the years.

Iworiso-Markson was reacting to a recent three-day ultimatum issued by the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) over an alleged attempt by the state to sack 6,000 workers in the local government system.

The commissioner, who wondered how NULGE came about the number of those claimed to have been affected in the ongoing efforts to purge the civil service of corrupt elements, said that innocent persons would not be affected by the measures put in place to check the endemic fraud and diversion of state resources.

He therefore appealed to genuine workers of the LGAs not to entertain any fear as the exercise was not designed to witch-hunt innocent workers.

According to him, the reforms were designed to fish out and sanction a particular category of unscrupulous persons whose acts were harmful to the state’s economic development and well-being.

The commissioner said that the painstaking exercise was conducted in a most transparent manner, and involved leaders of the organised Labour, including NULGE and the Nigeria Labour Congress.

He stressed that NULGE’s attack on the person of the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Hon. Talford Ongolo was “a surreptitious attempt to arm-twist the government to abandon the comprehensive implementation of the reform process in the state.”

Iworiso-Markson lamented that the efforts of a few criminal-minded individuals had been depriving the state of over N12 billion annually.

The commissioner listed the benefits of the reforms to include employment generations, increased for development of infrastructure and a strengthened civil service.

Source News Express

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