The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said on Tuesday that the Federal Government had uncovered 37,395 ghost workers on the Federal Civil Service payroll and that the government lost about N1 billion to them.
The EFCC’s acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, made the disclosure during an anti-corruption sensitisation programme organised by the commission for staff of works and housing sectors.
Mr. Magu said that apart from the widespread procurement frauds in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), the issue of ghost workers was a source of serious concern to the commission.
“EFCC has uncovered 37,395 ghost workers in the Federal Civil Service and investigation is still going on.
“Our investigations have so far revealed that the Federal Government has lost close to N1 billion to these ghost workers.
The figure will definitely increase as we unravel more ghost workers buried deep in Federal Civil Service payrolls.’’
Mr. Magu also explained that the commission had established a Procurement Fraud Unit in order to handle the increasing number of petitions relating to violations of the Public Procurement Laws.
He, therefore, advised civil servants to avoid any act that was in breach of public procurement, warning that violators risked terms of imprisonment and dismissal from service.
“In regard to procurement fraud, there has been a sharp rise in the number of petitions coming to the commission relating to violations of the Public Procurement Act (2007).
“That is what informed my setting up a Procurement Fraud Unit which has since commenced investigation of procurement fraud cases, with some of those cases already in courts.
“Let me warn that civil servants found guilty under the Public Procurement Act risk terms of imprisonment ranging from five to 10 years, and in addition, may face dismissal from service.
“The commission is determined more than ever before to rid all MDAs of all forms of fraudulent activities.’’
The EFCC chairman also announced that the commission planned to place suggestion boxes at designated places for people to drop petitions and reports of corrupt practices, to assist the commission in the fight against corruption.
Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary (Works and Housing), Abubakar Magaji, said that as the drivers of government policies, MDAs should be in the forefront of compliance with public service laws and regulations.
“It is rather sad that over time, the laws, regulations and standard practice governing the operations of the public service are being neglected and often abused, in many cases with impunity.
“The MDAs are expected to be in the forefront of compliance with extant laws and regulations, because they (MDAs), collectively, constitute the engine room of government.
“They are responsible for implementation of government policies and programmes. Therefore, the success or failure of such policies and programmes are fully on the shoulders of public officers.’’
Mr. Magaji announced that the Works and Housing sectors had resolved to regularly organise interactive sessions to re-orientate officers on the importance of compliance with extant laws, regulations and guidelines.
The sensitization session featured paper presentations by staff of the EFCC on the legal and operational activities of the commission.