Politics

Plateau Verification Committee uncovers 709 civil servants with false ages

The Committee on Staff Audit and Verification set up by the Plateau State Government has unearthed monumental fraud in the state civil service saying out of the 13,978 staff verified, 709 staff either falsified or altered their age while 673 others were wrongly placed/promoted/converted.

Even as Governor Simon Lalong has vowed to remove questionable civil servants and inject new ones.

The Chairman of the Committee, Nde John Gobak while presenting his report to the Governor on Friday at the Little Ray Field Government House Jos said as a result of the autonomy granted to the Judiciary and Legislature, the Committee only screened staff under the direct purview of the Executive with a total number of 14,418 officers said to be in Service.

“Only 13,978 were authenticated indicating a difference of 440 adding that out of the 13,978 staff verified, 709 staff either falsified or altered their age while 673 others were wrongly placed/promoted/converted. 66 ought to have retired prior to the inauguration of the Committee on 20th April, 2021.17 cases were recommended for review by a Medical Board,” he said.

He said the Committee established that there is a manifest disconnect between the Salary Automation Unit in the Ministry of Finance and other important Offices of Government such as the Office of the Head of Civil Service and the Office of the State Auditor- General resulting in the Unit’s seeming overbearingness and or ability to function unchecked.

He said this has resulted in some Staff still being paid salaries months after they had disengaged from the Service either by Death, Retirement, Transfer or Secondment due to failure to timely raise Variation Orders in that regard or collusion to circumvent the System and or outright acts of misconduct.

According to him, the Committee, therefore, recommended that Salary Automation Unit should have a Tripartite Supervisory Linkage among the Offices of the Head of Civil Service, State Auditor-General and the Accountant General who may either jointly endorse the Payment Mandates or ensure on a monthly basis, that what is paid is well-vetted and genuine.

Nde Gobak further pointed out that all approvals earlier granted some Staff to change their dates of birth be rescinded while all Employments/Placements/Conversions/Advancements done against the provisions of the Schemes of Service and other extant Circulars as captured in the Main Report be withdrawn.

In his reaction, Governor Lalong said
his administration will not tolerate civil servants with questionable records and those who have falsified their data to remain in service or secure placement and promotions they don’t deserve.

The Governor said the Committee was necessitated by the desire of the Government to address some of the challenges that constituted barriers to service delivery, professionalism, accountability and transparency.

He said “among other things, Government was worried that despite the number of people exiting from the Service as a result of deaths, retirements, transfers, withdrawals etc., the State wage bill appeared to be constant and even increasing.

“In addition, the Government was inundated with alleged cases of age falsification, record tampering, placements and other complaints that cast a negative image in the service and attempted to reduce the effectiveness and efficiency of the Civil Service. This also restrained Government from conducting recruitment to inject fresh manpower into the system, resulting in a situation where the State Civil Service is confronted by loopholes and critical manpower shortages in various areas.”

While commending the Committee under the leadership of Nde John G Gobak, OFR, mni, for doing a wonderful job, Governor Lalong directed the Standing Committee on White Paper to immediately swing into action and submit a Draft White Paper for Government’s consideration and swift implementation.

He said this will enable Government to resume promotion as well as employment processes in the Service as soon as possible, and also assured civil servants that the report will not be used to witch hunt anyone and those who have questions to answer should be ready to answer them.

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