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Abia uncovers 5,666 illegal workers as Imo plans to prosecute payroll fraudsters

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The Abia State Government has disclosed that about 5, 666 of the 5, 853 workers employed in the state’s Secondary Education Management Board (SEMB) from 2018 to date were not approved.

This was revealed in a report of the seven-man committee set up by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu to scrutinise all purported employments in the board from 2018 to 2020.

While submitting the committee’s report through the Chief of Staff (COS) to the governor, Dr. Anthony Agbazuere, its Chairman, Mrs. Kate Ndukuba, said of the 5, 853 persons employed within the period, only 187 were officially engaged, while 5, 666 were employed illegally.

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She disclosed that from the 5,853 newly recruited staff, 5,000 appeared before the committee, while 853 did not show up, adding that the committee considered those who failed to appear before it as ghost workers.

She, however, stated that the majority of those employed were not yet being paid salaries.

Speaking after receiving the report at Government House, Umuahia, Agbazuere commended the committee for a job well done, saying the government would study its recommendations and act accordingly.

He stressed the need for government agencies to adhere to the rules guiding recruitment into public service.

Meanwhile, the Imo State Government disclosed that it was ready to prosecute, confiscate and recover all property acquired by payroll fraudsters in the state’s civil service.

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Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba, who stated this yesterday, while fielding questions from journalists in Owerri, said the state government had concluded arrangements to recover their illegally gotten wealth.

Emelumba said eight retirees were discovered to have been earning N330m yearly before the fraud was uncovered.

He said the alleged perpetrators manipulated and padded pensions and salaries of workers, leading to some persons earning income both as retirees and workers by using wrong Bank Verification Numbers (BVN) and account details.

The commissioner said the delay in the payment of pensions was as a result of the development and pleaded for patience from the pensioners.

He pointed out that the processes of sanitissing the system were almost completed, noting that Governor Hope Uzodimma’s administration owed only two months of arrears and not four months, as being speculated.

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