BENUE STATE LOSES N1.4 BILLION TO SHARP PRACTICES IN SALARY PAYMENT

By Terver Akase.
The Salary Verification Committee set up by Governor Samuel Ortom to look into the bloated wage bill of the state has revealed that government has lost over N1.4 billion to irregular payment of salaries between June 2015 and October 2016.

Chairman of the Salary Verification Committee, Mr. Tertsegha Ikyaabo announced this today when he led other members of the committee to present an interim report to Governor Ortom at the Benue Peoples House, Makurdi.

Mr. Ikyaabo explained that the report covers about 10,300 staff in 60 ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs of government using actual verification of salary payment vouchers, staff records and physical sighting of staff as parameters for the exercise.

He said the Committee discovered eight ways by which salary increases were illegally effected in the various MDAs some of which were inclusion of 81 persons either dead or retired on the payroll of government amounting to N116.1 million within the period under review.

Others according to the Committee Chairman include 91 persons collecting salaries above their grade levels and those given appointments outside the mainstream of the state civil service who continue to enjoy salaries long after being relieved of such appointments amounting to N105.9 million within the same period.

He stated that there were 35 cases where some greedy officers found themselves transferred to places without going through laid down procedures with N18.6 million collected as salary in addition to another category of 30 officers whose contracts expired but continued to draw salaries worth N36.2 million, a situation he stressed had added to the already high state wage bill.

The Chairman of the Salary Verification Committee urged Governor Ortom to take urgent steps to expunge all the identified beneficiaries of the illegal payments from the payroll to plug the leakage of government resources, adding that other sectors such as tertiary institutions owned by the state, Health Management Board and the State Teaching Service Board were next to be verified.

Responding, Governor Ortom said the interim report was confirmation of the Committee's capacity in assisting the State Government to unravel the mystery behind its huge wage bill, saying that the N1.4 One billion lost would greatly have helped to clear salary arrears of workers.

The Governor handed the report to the Chairman, Salary Payment Committee and State Deputy Governor, Engineer Benson Abounu to expedite action on its implementation and thanked the Ikyaabo Committee for the diligent job so far done.
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