Ghost Workers: 2.29 Billion Naira Saved By FG

ghost workersAbout 2.3 billion naira is now being saved monthly from the federal government workers’ payroll.

The Ministry of Finance attributes this development to the ongoing BVN-based staff audit through the integrated payroll and personnel information system.

A statement from the ministry explains that this figure includes the money recovered from some non-existent workers removed from the payroll of ministries, departments and agencies.

The statement adds that investigations of other suspected cases would continue as efforts were on to recover salaries and pension paid to the ghost workers.

Controversial Pension Fraud Judgement: NJC Says Judge Has Case To Answer

The National Judicial Council (NJC) has resolved that Justice Abubakar Talba of the Abuja High Court, who allowed a former Deputy Director in the police pension office, John Yusuf to pay N750.000 fine and walked away free after he was convicted for stealing N1.3 billion, has a case to answer.

Following its resolution the council has set up a committee to further investigate the judge and come up with a detailed report of what actually transpired between Mr Yusuf and Justice Talba.

The committee will also consider whether the judgment given by Justice Talba was appropriate in the circumstance.

The council could however not take any decision on 18 other petitions against judges because the responses of judges to the query issued against them came late.

The council will at its next meeting, billed to hold on 13June consider the committee’s report on Justice Talba.

Similarly, petitions against some appeal court judges were also moved for the next meeting of the council.
The council also agreed that funding of the judiciary should be made a first line charge like the funding of the Independent National Electoral Commission, the National Assembly, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the Universal Basic Education Commission.

A former president of the Nigerian Bar Association, Olisa Agbakoba had filed a suit at the federal high court to make the funding of the judiciary a first line charge in the federation account.

In the suit, he wants the court to declare as unconstitutional, null and void, the continued dependence of the judiciary on the executive arm of government for its budgeting and funds release since it is a violation of sections 81, 84 and 162 of the 1999 constitution.

He also wants the court to declare that by virtue of the constitutional guarantee of the independent fund of the judiciary in accordance with the provisions of 1999 constitution, judiciary’s budget ought to be taken by the National Judicial Council (NJC) straight to the National Assembly for appropriation as against the practice of taking it to the budget office under the presidency.

He also argues that apart from independent budgeting, the funds belonging to the judiciary in the consolidated revenue fund should be released directly to the NJC in whole for disbursement for the needs of the courts as against the practice of release of funds in warrants by the executive arm of government.

Head of Service, Not Jonathan Can Sack Maina – Presidency

The Presidency has reacted to the ultimatum issued by the Senate that it should sack embattled Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, stating that this can only be done by following existing civil service rule.

The Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina

The Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati, who said the president was not backing Mr Maina against the Senate, pointed out that the lawmakers can summon anyone they so wish.

“As a man that believes in the rule of law, the president believes that laid down procedure should be followed in addressing issues” he said.

He added that the process of stripping any erring civil servant of his job resides in the Head of Service of the Federation, who is the executor of the regulations guiding the hiring and firing of anyone found wanting.

“The Senate has constitutional power to summon anybody. If such person failed to appear before them, the lawmakers are also empowered to issue warrant of arrest against the person.”

“The President has not in any way stood in the way of the senate in inviting Maina. You will recall that the police even declared him wanted.”

“Maina is a civil servant. If he has done something that amount to a breach of civil service rule, the appropriate office to do the right thing and ensure that due process is followed is the office of the head of service of the federation” he further adds.

The Senate had on Wednesday threatened a showdown with the President over the retention of Mr Maina as the Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team despite the fraudulent investigation the Senate is conducting on him.

The Federal lawmakers were incensed over the repeated refusal of Mr Maina to appear before its committee investigating pension administration to answer allegations of his involvement in a N195 billion pension scam.

All the 180 senators at plenary signed the motion for the removal of Mr Maina as the head of the Pension Reform Task Team.

Over N500 million PHCN pension trapped in London – Report

A panel set up to investigate the electricity workers’ pension contributions in the power sector has submitted its report to the minister of state for power.

PHCN employees protest over pension

Submitting the report on Monday in Abuja, the Chairman of the investigative panel and a former Auditor-General of the Federation, Joseph Ajiboye said that Power Holding Company of Nigeria’s (PHCN) workers’ pensions was never a contributory scheme and was never funded by a budgetary allocation but rather through an internal arrangement in the company.

“The problem with the PHCN was that they didn’t have sufficient fund to be able to meet the requirements of that closed system, that is the major problem,” he said.

Another major finding of the report according to Mr Ajiboye, was the existence of a mini—estate constructed to service the electricity workers’ retirement fund which was sold off without remissions to the fund, thereby starving the fund and making it impossible to pay off retired workers.

The eight-man-panel also reported that over two million pounds (approximately N500 million) which ought to have gone to the retirement fund is presently stuck in a London account and that if recovered could help solve the ongoing impasse between the electricity workers and the federal government.

The former Auditor-General said he believes that “government in its wisdom will find a solution to this problem.”

The investigative panel’s report has long been awaited. The panel was given 30 working days to probe the PHCN pension scheme especially the details of the N300 billion allegedly accumulated in the NEPA retirement fund which the former minister of power, Barth Nnaji had insisted was only N3 billion.

The Minister of State for Power, Nuhu Wya, while receiving the report from the panel said “We hope this report will aid us to find a solution the lingering labour issue. And you know the only labour issue that is outstanding now is that of pension.”

The PHCN staff are demanding a 25 percent benefit on their pensions different from the 15 percent severance package offered by the federal government on grounds that this was a set standard for pensions and gratuity payoff peculiar to the PHCN pensions scheme under the retirement fund.

Obasanjo says fighting corruption is not a one-night affair

Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo on Tuesday said that fighting corruption in Nigeria is not a one night affair.

In an interview with a UK newspaper, theguardian, Mr Obasanjo told the reporter interviewing him that instead of saying Nigerian leaders lack accountability, he should say they are corrupt.

“You are being euphemistic when you say lack of accountability. Call it corruption,” he said.

“There is no part of the world where corruption is absolutely eliminated. But [in other countries] that corruption has not been a way of life. When you are found, you are dealt with. And that’s what we need.”

Mr Obasanjo was in the UK to promote investment in Nigeria.

“Fighting corruption is not a one-night affair,”  the former president, who made fighting graft a significant element of his manifesto ahead of his election in 1999, said.

“The givers of most of the corruption in Africa are from outside Africa,” he said. “They do in Africa, [things] they would not do in their own countries. In my part of the world, we have a saying that the man who carries a pot of palm oil from the ceiling is not the only thief. He has an accomplice in the man who helps him to bring it down. The giver and the taker are criminals, and they should be treated as such.”

The former present who is working as a roving ambassador, facilitating firms’ entry into Nigeria and the rest of Africa said he believes that positive examples of business success will encourage avaricious minds to look for more legitimate routes to wealth.

“I still believe in the opportunities that Africa affords to make legitimate money,” he says. “Africa is one place I believe that if you are courageous enough, you get the money, you can invest and get 25% return on your investment annually. There aren’t many places in the world where you can get that return.”

A corrupt nation

In 1999, Transparency International Corruption Perception Index rated Nigeria the second most corrupt nation in the world.

Successive democratic government have since 1999 attempted to fight corruption in Nigeria. Following his election as president, Mr Obasanjo established the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) in a bid to halt corruption.

Despite the efforts of these agencies, corruption continued abated in Nigeria.

In a country ranked 143 in the world on the Transparency International corruption perception index, civil society fights a perennial battle with institutionalised corruption, which has led to some officials – including some of Nigeria’s extraordinarily influential state governors – becoming dollar billionaires.

One, James Ibori, a former governor of Delta State, was convicted this year of embezzling £150m and jailed for 13 years. Ibori, whose annual state salary of less than $25,000 (£16,000) was bolstered by the systematic theft of state funds, built up a portfolio of luxury cars and properties in the UK, US and South Africa.

Timipre Sylva, the former governor of Bayelsa State, was arraigned this month by the EFCC on charges including fraud and money laundering.
Since 2009, the crusading central bank governor, Lamido Sanusi, has had some success in cleaning out the banking sector, claiming high-profile scalps such as Cecilia Ibru, the former CEO of Oceanic Bank, who was jailed for fraud and mismanagement.

Arunma Oteh came in to head the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2010, attacking vested interests in the stock market. Ms Oteh had since been removed from office based on allegations that she abused her powers.