The Judicial Commission of Inquiry setup by the Governor Simon Lalong led administration in Plateau State to investigate the activities of the immediate past administration on Monday said it has uncovered anothermonumental salary fraud running into billions of naira committed under the immediate past administration between May 29th, 2007 and May 29th, 2015.
The Commission sitting in Jos pointed out that somebody with the name PDP was drawing a monthly salary of N4.5 million for several years.
The Commission’s prosecuting Counsel, Nanfa Daleng and that of the state government Barr. Gidalia Fomyong took on a witness, Mr. Dagyat Pam who spearheaded the automation of civil servant salaries which has led to some particular staff receiving salaries from same account numbers.
Pam admitted that the biometric exercise was not full-proof at the onset but was perfected later on.
The Commission while attending to one of the petitions before it noted that funds meant for salaries of civil servants were diverted for another purpose other than what it was statutorily meant for.
The Commission also alleged that on the 23rd July, 2013, the sum of N1 billion was transferred through zenith bank in favour of State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), but entered into an unknown account instead of the SUBEB account.
It was further alleged that over N252 million was on the 25th of May of the same year paid to Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) as withholding tax through a consultancy firm called Jams Specialists Ltd, but the money never got to FIRS till date.
Also, record before the Commission indicated that one Rose Rwanlong withdrew the sum of N150 million in one day using three cheques valued at N50 million each.
The commission further alleged that the sum of N12 million was deducted from salaries of local government staff, by the ministry for local government and chieftaincy affairs for an unknown purpose.
However, a former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mrs. Dorcas Turaki who was summoned as witness by the Commission admitted that the fund meant for salaries of teachers was taken out as loan with the approval of the former Governor of the State, Senator Jonah Jang.
She said the former Governor ordered the diversion of the fund as loan because teachers in the state were on strike at the period which made their salaries to accumulate in the Ministry.
She denied that the cash transferred from the Ministry to SUBEB entered into an unknown account.
She tendered a bank statement that confirmed the cash transfer but could not provide evidence that the sum was received by SUBEB.
Turaki also confirmed that part of the striking teachers’ salaries was also taken and given out as loan to the state electoral commission to conduct local government elections with the approval of the former Governor, Jonah Jang.
She confirmed that the money borrowed out of the teachers’ salaries to PLASIEC was N500 million.
She also confirmed that as at the time she left the Ministry as Permanent Secretary, the said loan was not paid back to the Ministry.
Another witnesses, Mrs. Rose Rwanlong said she was the cashier at the Ministry and confessed she made several cash withdrawals based on directive. She could not, however, provide evidence of the directives.
However, the Commission put it to the witnesses who had already retired from service of the state that unless they brought proof to convince the Commission, their action would be taken as fraud.
Chairman of the commission, Justice Stephen Adah said, “In finance control and management laws, it is forbidden to divert money meant for another purpose without passing through the State House of Assembly.”
The Commission later stepped down the petition to allow the witnesses time to go and search for proof of their claims at the Ministry.