EFCC accused some Civil Servant of creating and inserting fictitious names in the payroll of the Federal Government for salaries and allowances without official consent, thereby causing the loss of several millions of Naira.
THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Wednesday, told an Abuja High Court that one of the nine suspects docked over allegations of inserting several ghost workers on the payroll of the Federal Government operated about 200 different accounts with banks in Abuja, while another has over 50 houses.
The defendants— Dayo, Opeyemi, Adedokun, Sylvanus, Ayodeji, Dada, Dada, Ejeh and Taiwo— were arraigned before an Abuja High Court at Apo.
According to the charge sheet, most of the defendants were civil servants from government agencies such as the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources; Ministry of the Environment and the Federal Civil Service Commission, FCSC.
accused them of creating and inserting fictitious names in the payroll of the Federal Government for salaries and allowances without official consent, thereby causing the loss of several millions of Naira. The offence they committed was said be in contravention of Section 289 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015.
However, the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge even as they were remanded in prison custody by trial Justice Peter Kekemeke based on an application by EFCC lawyer, Mr. Mukhtar Mohammed.
EFCC applied for them to remain in prison custody pending the commencement of their trial. Plea by the defendants to be granted bail, pending determination of charge against them, was refused yesterday.
Whereas the female suspects were remanded in Suleja Prison in Niger State, the court remanded the male defendants in Kuje Prison.
The court fixed November 8 to hear applications by counsel to three of the defendants, who said they were willing for a plea bargain.
The three suspects had applied through their lawyers to forfeit some property and cash in lieu of their conviction for the crimes. EFCC told the court that its investigators uncovered that one of the defendants owned and operated about 200 personal accounts with different banks in Abuja.
Another one reportedly used particulars of his family members to operate several accounts in various banks. More so, another defendant was said to own more than 50 houses in various locations in Abuja and its environs.
The alleged payroll fraud was uncovered by the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Auditing, PICA, constituted by President Muhammadu Buhari in March 2016 to strengthen controls over government personnel and pension costs. PICA was set up to ensure that all Federal Government revenue receipts and payments were subjected to financial rules and regulations.
It is the first time government will be arraigning civil servants for allegedly inserting names of ghost workers into government payroll despite years of reports of losses of billions of Naira through such practices at ministries, departments and agencies. Despite government’s claim of recovering huge sums in recent times, no official of any of the agencies had been brought to face trial.