By Etuka Sunday
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun has commended the team running the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA) for detecting pay roll fraud by nine civil servants suspected to be involved in siphoning public funds by inserting fake workers in the payroll of Federal Ministries.
The nine suspects were yesterday, November 1, 2017, arraigned at an Abuja High Court for prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for allegedly conspiring and inserting fake workers in the payrolls of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources.
The nine suspects charged were Usman Aliyu Dayo, Osunlope Opeyemi, Johnson Adedokun, Ojeifo Robert Sylvanus, Oyebade Ebenezer Ayodeji and Florence Olaolu Dada. Others were Olaolu Haruna Dada, Blessing Ejeh and Aderibigbe Isaac Taiwo. They all pleaded not guilty when the 15-count charge was read to them and their Counsels applied for bail on their behalf.
A statement by the Director, Information, Ministry of Finance, Salisu Na’inna Dambatta said, the charge sheet filed by the EFCC indicated that the alleged fraud was committed at various times between 2011 and 2015.
The Minister described their arraignment as “a welcome development that has given further credibility to the war on corruption by the Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.”
The nine suspects who are now standing trial, were alleged to have connived and added ghost workers on the payrolls of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and siphoned N338,577,678.78 in the name of the non-existent workers.
Mrs. Adeosun vowed that the Federal Government through the Ministry of Finance and the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit would intensify efforts to rid the public service of fraudulent persons.
It could be recalled that the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit was instituted by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Administration in 2016 to strengthen the controls over personnel and pension costs.