The Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima, on Wednesday revealed how senior civil servants in the state colluded with commercial banks to generate multiple fake bank accounts for the purpose of earning more salaries every month.
The governor said the fraudulent workers mobilised people to pose as civil servants and open salary accounts.
The respective ATM cards for the accounts were thereafter transferred the top officials who used them for monthly withdrawals.
“These crop of senior civil servants would own dozens of such ATMs with which they use to collect salaries on behalf of these ghost workers,” the governor said while speaking to journalists on the ongoing salary verification controversy that has denied workers July salary.
“We have issued a warning to the banks that we are going to withdraw our money from their banks if they continue be accessories to these crimes of ghost workers.
“We have been able to uncover how some civil servants would give some persons just N2000 to open accounts as civil servants and bring the ATM to them. Some have up to 40 of such ATM cards for salary accounts with them.
“Now that the banks are helping us to expose the criminals, we have warned that any of them that collude with any top shot in the civil servant will have the full weight to the laws descending on them and we are going to delist them from the list of banks from our service,” the governor said.
He said the verification of workers had helped the state to uncover the fraud going on in the civil service.
Labour unions in the state are opposed to the verification, saying it causes payment delays and untold hardship to workers.
Mr. Shettima said he would not make any payment until an authentic figure of workers had been confirmed through physical and biometric data capturing.
He said before the verification, he received monthly salary bill for 25,000 workers, amounting to about N2.7 billion.
But the first phase of physical verification showed that only 19,000 workers were available.
“So far we have about 12,000 workers out of the 19,000 that have been physically verified, that have successfully completed biometric data capturing and certified as genuine workers in the state civil service, whom we are going to pay their salaries for the last two months,” he said.
Labour union leaders said partial payment of salaries would amount to crisis in the state civil service, and insisted that all the 19,000 that have been physically verified be allowed to get their salaries even as the verification exercise continues.
The state labour leader, Titus Abana, said the data capturing was slow and had caused the workers to suffer.
The governor insists payment will go to only the verified 12,000, and said the state had already saved N300 million monthly.
“I have listened to such plea in June when they came crying that embarking on the verification exercise would make it difficult for the larger Muslim population to celebrate the end of Ramadan Sallah. But business cannot continue to go as usual; one has to take the bold decision to do the right thing. We cannot continue like this,” he said.
At a meeting with labour leaders on Tuesday evening, the governor said he would only pay the remaining 7,000 after they had successfully completed their biometric data capturing exercise.
“But the labor leaders insisted that in solidarity they rather all wait till the exercise was completed saying that an injury for one is an injury for all,” said Mr. Shettima.
The governor said even though the labour had rejected his offer, he would not be joining them in such comradeship, saying he would authorise the state ministry of finance to commence payment of the workers salary with effect from Thursday, September 1.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that the labour unions were preparing to stage a protest should the governor decide to go ahead with the payment.
The governor said he was ready to face the consequences should labour decide to go on riot as it was rumored.
“I am ready to bear the consequence of unveiling the masquerade; but the labour should know that I am ready to pay the supreme price for making sure that sanity is brought to our civil service. We heard that some are organizing riots; some are planning to burn down the state secretariat or even storm the venue where the biometric exercise is taking place.
“We know there are vested interests that want the continuity of this criminality and would go out of their ways to organize protests and violence. Let them go on with their mischief but believe me we are going to do the right thing and nothing cannot stop us.
“I am happy that our salary for the about 12,000 workers has come down to N1.1 billion,” he said.