Dickson Tackles Salary Fraud in Bayelsa, Sets Up Judicial Commission
The governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. Henry Seriake Dickson has set up a nine member judicial commission of inquiry to investigate fraudulent falsification of government payroll and other accounts. This is coming on the heels of a suspected bloated salary bill which has made it impossible for the lean purse of the state to keep up with its fiscal obligations.
While playing host to the Nigerian Guild of Editors last year, Dickson had remarked: “From a wage bill of over six billion naira, we’ve reduced it to N4.42, so you can imagine that we have actually saved over N2 billion monthly; that’s the money that some unscrupulous civil servants and accounts treasury officials were conniving with bank officials and in this state we know that those who have been building big hotels are the civil servants; the treasury officials, driving big cars, living a life style that they cannot explain or sustain; it’s been a very serious revolution going on in the state. That is the difference we’ve ploughed back to the coffers to embark on all these developments that you’re seeing”.
In spite of this, there is still suspicion that the wage bill of the state may have been tweaked by crooks in the system thus prompting the Governor to set up a judicial commission to arrest the trend. The measure was part of his efforts to sanitize the civil service and entrench corporate governance in the State.
Already, workers under the aegis of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), have expressed satisfaction with the governor’s decision, saying apart from bring sanity in the system and block all leakages of fraud, it would save the state from impoverishment by crooks.
Justice Doris Adokeme is the chairperson of the commission while Mr Victor Slaboh is secretary.
Other members are Chief Amos Poubenafa; Mr. Olodiama Jebba representing the Ministry of Justice and Mr. Anthony Ikhobo representing the State Treasury.
Raymond Angaye representing the Office of the Head of Service, Mr Kehinde Akingbade; Miss Erebi Bibobra and Assistant Commissioner of Police, Assayomo Tuesday, are also members of the commission.
The commission which has 60 days to conclude its assignment is also to extend its investigation into payroll fraud to the eight LG councils of the state
Dickson while inaugurating the commission at the Executive Council Chambers of Government House, gave an eight-point term of reference to its members, with a charge on them to investigate in full the circumstances surrounding the state’s payroll of public servants from 2003 till date.
While describing the task before the commission as important and sensitive to the survival of the Bayelsa State, he mandated its members to also uncover the person or persons, cartel or gang involved in the suspected fraudulent distortion of the payroll and nominal roll of public servants from 2003 till date.
The commission is expected, among other things, to “reveal the identities of the perpetrators of the suspected fraudulent falsification of salaries in ministries, departments and agencies of government as well as determine, where possible, the exact amount of government money that may have been lost through the criminal activity.”
According to Dickson, the commission has the responsibility to uncover the method employed by the suspected perpetrators in depriving government of large sums of money.
The governor urged the committee members to recommend measures to recover such stolen funds.