Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state

By Ige Olugbenga

The Salary Verification Committee on Wednesday revealed that the Benue state government lost over N1.4bn to irregular payments of salaries between June 2015 and October 2016.

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Chairman of the Committee, Tertsegha Ikyaabo, announced this when he led other members of the committee to present an interim report to Governor Samuel Ortom.

Ikyaabo explained that the report covers about 10,300 staff members in 60 Ministries, Departments and Agencies, (MDAs) of government.

He said the Committee discovered eight ways by which salary increases were illegally effected in the various MDAs, some of which were the inclusion of 81 persons either dead or retired, on the payroll of government, amounting to N116.1 million within the period under review.

Others, according to the Committee Chairman, include 91 persons collecting salaries above their grade levels and those given appointments outside the mainstream of the state civil service, amounting to N105.9 million.

He stated that there were 35 cases where some officers found themselves transferred to places without going through laid down procedures with N18.6 million collected as salaries in addition to another category of 30 officers whose contracts expired but continued to draw salaries worth N36.2 million.

Govt to fight fraud

The Chairman urged Governor Ortom to take urgent steps, to expunge all the identified beneficiaries of the illegal payments from the payroll.

Responding, Governor Ortom said the interim report is a confirmation of the Committee’s capacity in assisting the state government to unravel the mystery behind its huge wage bill.

A statement issued by the Chief Press Secretary, Tever Akase, says the governor handed the report to the Chairman, Salary Payment Committee and the state deputy governor, Engineer Benson Abounu, for implementation.