June 30, 2015

The Chairman,
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)
5, Formella Street,
Off Adetokunbo Ademola Crescent,
Wuse II, Abuja

Dear Sir,

REQUEST TO PROSECUTE THOSE INVOLVED IN THE GHOST WORKERS SCAM

Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC) is a coalition of over hundred and fifty Anti- corruption organizations whose primary aim is to constructively combat corruption vigorously and to ensure the effective monitoring of the various Anti-graft agencies in the fight against corruption and contribute towards the enthronement of transparency, accountability, probity, and total commitment in the fight to eradicate corruption in Nigeria.

In 2007, according to the Bureau of Public Service Reform (BPSR), the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) project, a World Bank–assisted programme of the Federal Government’s Economic Reforms and Governance Project (ERGP), was instituted to provide a reliable and comprehensive database for the public service, facilitate manpower planning, eliminate record and payroll frauds, facilitate easy storage, update and retrieve personnel records for administrative and pension processes and facilitate staff remuneration payment with minimal waste and leakages.

National Mirror reported on its website on July 03, 2013 that, since the commencement of the project, successes recorded include the streamlining of payroll and personnel processes; personnel budget now based on actual as against estimate projections; prompt deduction and remittance of money to all third party funds, such as the Pension Fund Administration, National Health Insurance Scheme etc., as well as saving funds recovered from the ghost worker syndrome dogging the nation’s public service.

The news medium further related that, according to reports, FG for example, made a savings of N4.4 billion in the 2007/2008 fiscal year from the IPPIS project. The said amount represents the difference between the budgeted personnel cost estimates of just seven ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) and the actual personnel costs paid during the period under reference. Then, it was allegedly discovered that, the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) harboured about 10,000 ghost workers on its payroll, while the prostrate Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) frittered away N2 billion annually using ghost workers as cover.

Earlier in 2013, in February 14, 2013, the Punch reported that the former Minister of State for Finance, Dr. Yerima Ngama, while briefing journalists on the outcome of the weekly Federal Executive Council presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan on the 13th of February, 2013, related that the Federal Government had so far uncovered 45,000 ghost workers in 215 Ministries, Departments and Agencies where the finance ministry had already introduced the IPPIS and that about N100billion was already saved in form of salary bill.

Within 2013 and prior the exit of the Jonathan administration, about 63,000 ghost workers have purportedly been uncovered saving the federal government billions of Naira. The Punch reported on 17th February, 2015 that at a lecture organised by the Catholic Caritas Foundation of Nigeria, an organ of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria with the theme, ‘Preventing leakages in the Nigerian Economy’, in February 2015, the former Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, allegedly stated that, the Federal Government uncovered 62,892 ghost workers and as a result, the exercise saved the government over N208.7billion.

However, despite claims by the previous administration of saving the enormous cash from the scam, the Jonathan administration failed to punish those behind it. Premium Times on June 29, 2015, while giving a report on the Ahmed Joda transition committee’s recommendations to President Buhari, stated that Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala supposedly claimed that, the case had been transferred to the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) alongside names of indicted officials but the anti-graft body reportedly repeatedly refuted this.

Let us bear in mind that the monumental ghost-worker sleaze bug is not only eating the fabrics of the civil service of the Federal Government alone but virtually all states in the country are afflicted with this bug. Failure to retrieve criminally acquired resources and punish perpetrators of this act is capable of embolden others in devising new criminal means of pilfering state resources.

We hereby request that your Commission investigate and prosecute the kingpins and field officers involved in this act of ghost worker scam across the Federal civil service as reported by the former minister of finance. The ex-minister should be promptly invited to provide insight into the matter, with information allegedly forwarded to the ICPC supplied for necessary action.

Thank you in anticipation of your prompt action on this matter.

Sincerely,
Olanrewaju Suraju
Chairman