No fewer than 2,500 ghost workers have been uncovered from the payroll of local government areas in Benue State.

There are 23 local governments in the state.

Benue State Governor, Hyacinth Alia, disclosed this in a press statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Kula Tersoo, and made available to journalists in Makurdi on Thursday.

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The governor, who gave reason for the the delay in payment of salaries of teachers in primary and post-primary schools, as well as the local government staff, said there was a need to sanitize and clean all the manipulations created by the past administration.

Alia explained that the probe into activities of local government during the last administration revealed mindless padding of the wage bills and manipulation of the payroll.

The statement read in parts, “The governor says the decision for the delay in the payment of salaries of the above-mentioned workers was taken after the government discovered mindless padding of the wage bill and other fraudulent manipulations on their payroll.

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“He reveals that the first phase of an extensive staff verification and payroll audit for all teachers and local government staff has just been concluded, and it has already uncovered over 2500 ghost workers that have already been removed from the payroll.

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“He identifies ghost workers, ghost schools, double dipping, unlawful employment, salary padding, payment to dead or retired individuals, unlawful replacement, and inflation of the wage bill, as some of the payroll infractions discovered from the audit.

“He assures that workers who were successfully screened will receive their salaries before the end of this week, noting that government is not only fishing out ghosts workers and removing the padding associated with payroll fraud but also putting in measures to ensure the systems are protected going forward.”

Alia had suspended the 23 local government chairmen to pave the way for a thorough investigation into alleged maladministration in the council areas by the state assembly.