Anambra State Local Government Service Commission has revealed that over 300 ghost workers have been drawing salaries from various local governments in the state without coming to work.

The chairman of the commission, Mr Vincent Ezeaka revealed this to Newsmen on Friday during an interview in his office.

Ezeaka had recently come under attack from workers in the local government system who accused him of unduly victimizing them since his appointment.

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Ezeaka, a legal practitioner was accused of working to impress his master, Governor Chukwuma Soludo, by trying to remove many people from the payroll, to ease the burden of the huge wage bill on the governor.

But, reacting to the accusations, he told Newsmen that he was only doing his work, and that he would not be surprised if anyone accused him of working to impress Soludo, as the primary purpose of his appointment was to ensure that he did the work to the satisfaction of his master.

Speaking further, he explained, “The
governor gave us a mandate to clear the local government system of ghost workers, so we brought biometric attendance register and we used it for five months, then we made a printout of the first three months, and we got a printout with names of 320 workers in all the 21 local government who never attended work even one day in three months.

“They have zero attendance and never clocked in or out in the system.

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“We brought out their names and wrote to JAAC to put them off salary. In the civil service rule, you don’t even need one month of zero attendance to get dismissed, but we didn’t dismiss them, but we put them off the payroll.

“Some reacted and said the machine was not working perfectly, so we gave another chance.

“The intention was not to reduce the wage bill, or victimize anyone, but for them to show that they are workers. To go to work and do the work they are paid for. Out of that 320, only 110 since February this year have been able to come out to prove themselves as workers and we have restored their pay and till today, 220 have not shown up.”

He said the Commission was still worried that the wage bill was high, compared to the number of people that were coming to work, so it did a physical audit of workers.

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“We set up a committee to verify the workers. The heads of personnel management in all the local government brought in their workers list, they also attached their schedule of duty, and we went to JAAC and got the salary printout.

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“Then we started verifying. Anyone whose name was on the salary printout and was not captured in the schedule of duty was fished out.

“After six weeks, the committee found out that some were retired, some have relocated abroad, some have found job elsewhere, some have also died, but were still eating salaries from this government.”

He added: “We found 59 dead workers, 40 retirees, 222 unidentified workers, some have relocated out of Nigeria but were still earning salaries, while some have found more lucrative jobs, yet their accounts were still being credited with monthly salaries.

“We found the case of a lady (name withheld) who retired from the local government system and got a job in Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. She was still receiving salaries, and also receiving pension at the same time, yet receiving salary as a staff of Nnamdi Azikiwe University.

“We have written to the university, and they have confirmed that she is their staff. Another is in Nwafor Orizu College of Education, and she was still receiving salaries from this government. We have the case of people who absconded from work for years, and their salaries were still being paid. One was traced to be living abroad, yet collecting salary here.

“Some people are saying I’m doing this so as to curry favour from Governor Soludo, but I can only say yes. The essence of my being appointed, is it not for the governor to be happy with my performance?

“I cannot quantify how much we have saved the Soludo government in cash, because besides salaries, some of these people would have at some point put in retirement and also collected gratuity and gone ahead to be receiving pension.”

He said his interest is for the system to be sanitized, and that he would stop at nothing to achieve the objective.

Ezeaka added that the salaries of all the ghost workers and others have been stopped.