34,000 Ghost Workers: Syndicate Uncovered

•500 fake bank accounts opened in one day

•EFCC summons bank MDs, top civil servants

• I’m not aware – Spokesman

By Adetutu Folasade- Koyi

INDICATIONS emerged at the weekend that in the course of investigating how 34,000 ghost workers got on the federal payroll, a three-ring syndicate has been uncovered.
Last month, Finance Minister, Mrs Kemi Adeosun blew open 23,000 ghost workers on the payroll.

She said in the aftermath of deploying the Bank Verification Number (BVN), 23,000 ghost workers were discovered, saving the Federal Government lost N2.29 billion per month.

Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, disclosed this to State House correspondents on Wednesday at the end of a meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari. Less than three weeks after that, another 11,000 ghost workers were also discovered on government’s payroll.

The 23,000 ghost workers, Daily Sun gathered at the weekend, were run by a three-ring syndicate of top civil servants in federal ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), bankers and some “big people outside the federal civil service.”

It was also learnt yesterday that some of the civil servants implicated in perpetrating the fraud of the initial 23,000 ghost workers here been picked up by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Some of them, it was learnt, reported at the anti-graft agency’s office in Abuja, last week, to explain their roles in the scam.

A source at the anti-corruption agency said yesterday that, “the EFCC has started picking some of them. In the course of writing their statements we discovered that it was a three-ring syndicate running the scam.

“From documents available, we saw how 500 salary accounts were opened in the names of civil servants. In most cases, some of the accounts bear just one name while the common thread which bound them was that they were opened in just one day at the branch of a generation bank.”
With that discovery, the second stage of the investigation will start today, it was gathered.

Another source disclosed that the second leg of the investigation, starting today, will be to invite top managers of banks where some of the fictitious accounts were opened as well as those outside the civil service whose names were mentioned in the course of the initial investigation.

When contacted, EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren said he was not aware of the investigation and also added that even if the investigation had started, it was not possible to put sensitive information in the public domain until it was necessary to do so.

Media Adviser to the Finance minister, Festus Akanbi did not pick calls to his line. But, a source in the ministry said “some of the banks where the salary accounts were opened are cooperating with us and the EFCC. Some of our ogas were invited for questioning and we learnt that some of them will be reporting at the EFCC this week.”

On March 9, Adeosun told State House Correspondents, after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting that her ministry was using what she called computer techniques to investigate the fresh 11,000 affected cases.

She said as soon as investigations are concluded, “Nigerians would be informed of the amount saved and the number of names removed again from the payroll.
“Again, we are using computer techniques to identify those who we need to investigate…”



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