Edo govt suspends Etsako West council chairman over N46m payroll fraud
By Francis Ogbuagu, Benin City
The Edo state government has said that the Etsako West local government area chairman, Yakubu Musa, had been placed on indefinite suspension from duty. This, it said, was to allow for thorough investigation into a N46 million payroll fraud uncovered in the council.
In a statement signed by the recently redeployed commissioner for local government and community affairs, Barr. Jimoh Ijegbai, the state government said it took the decision in the interest of people of Etsako West and to ensure that the erstwhile council boss did not encumber efforts to unravel the full ramification of the fraud in the system.
In the statement, the commissioner said the state governor had ordered a staff audit in the course of which 63 staff members did not show up. The 63 were said to account for N6,035,656.29 (six million, thirty-five thousand, six hundred and fifty-six naira, twenty-nine kobo only) on the local government pay roll.
“It was later discovered that the authority of Etsako West local government area entrusted the council’s payroll to a Grade Level Three (GL-03) officer who inserted two fictitious names on the payroll through whom the local government was defrauded of the sum of forty-six million (46 million), from July 2018 to May 2019. The case is currently being investigated by security agencies,” he added.
According to him, “If the council chairman was diligent enough, he should have been the one to raise the alarm that his council’s wage bill was increasing astronomically even though no new staff was employed.
He said the governor had consequently ordered a general verification and audit in other local governments to ensure such malfeasance was not going on in other councils.