Benue commission discovers 3,460 ghost workers in 23 LGAs

The Local Government Service Commission in Benue State said it has unearthed 3,460 ghost workers drawing salary in the 23 local governments in the state.

This was disclosed by the Chairman of the Local Government Commission, Dr Bem Meladu during the presentation of the report of the verification exercise.

According to Meladu, the figure of 18,426 as the staff was presented to it but said that 14, 966 staff came out for the verification exercise.

He said in the report that hundreds of retirees and dead people names were found on the local government payroll.

Meladu said that the committee observed that the local governments are generally overstaffed adding that the commission also confirmed padding of salaries in various ways among Local Government Councils and has taken appropriate action to stem the tide. He said the commission also noticed manipulation of retirement dates of some Local Government staff. In some cases, officers that were supposed to retire from service about a year ago are still in the service.

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“We have identified such cases and appropriately retired them. We have even gone further to identify all Local Government staff that are due for retirement in 2020 and 2021 respectively for appropriate action (See Annexures ’C’ and ’D’ on pages 433 and 448 of the Report).

“In the course of our assignment, we came across a number of absentee staff. These are staff living elsewhere but drawing salaries from Local Governments where they claim to be working.

“During the staff verification exercise, we identified and confronted some of them and they even admitted it. Unfortunately, this is being done with the active collaboration of some Heads of Departments. This is criminal and we will not allow this.

“The names of deceased staff are being retained on Local Government payroll under the pretext that gratuity is never paid in time. This practice is not only criminal but contravenes extant establishment rules. Moving forward, we will not condone that kind of illegality.”

Receiving the report, Governor Samuel Ortom assured that the State Executive Council would deliberate on the report in its next meeting, just as he lamented the decay in the local government system, pointing out that his administration would take proactive measures to plug the leakages and reposition the local governments.

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