From: Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The Bayelsa State Government is set to arrest and prosecute Civil servants indicted in the mind-boggling pay roll fraud in the state.
Investigations revealed that following the directive from Governor Henry Seriake Dickson, Deputy Governor John Gboribiogha Jonah, the Chief of Staff, Mr. Talford Ongolo and the Head of Service, Mr. Thomas Zidafamor, had completed the compilation of the names of those indicted and removal of their names from the payment vouchers.
It was learnt that the state government’s prosecution team was targeting those working with computer-generated certificates, beneficiaries of indefensible astronomical promotions in violation of civil service rules, those receiving salaries from multiple agencies among other alleged payroll fraudsters.
It was further gathered that a Special Court had been established to ensure effective prosecution of the suspects.
A top Government House source said that the governor told members of the Committee on Public Service Reforms that he had alerted the Commissioner of Police and had constituted a committee on prosecution on the massive fraud in the state.
Dickson was also quoted as having said that those indicted would be given the opportunity to appear before the nine-man judicial commission led by Hon. Justice Doris Adokeme.
“We have contacted the Commissioner of Police on the need for prosecution. I can assure you that no innocent person would be affected. That is why the Judicial Commission of Inquiry is there. Anybody who has a case, anybody who feels he is not fairly treated has the chance to go there. The prosecution team is waiting and the courts are waiting to commence action soon,” Dickson was quoted as having said.
It was gathered that the committee entrusted with the responsibility of prosecuting the alleged fraudsters would have some difficult task in view of the large number of people involved. The source was silent on the number, which is said to be in thousands.
Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, who confirmed on telephone that the state government wass set for prosecution, maintained that full action on the committee’s report would commence soon.
According to him government would ensure the prosecution of those who committed widespread fraud, a crime against the state.
He said: “I think that should be expected. If you go out of your way to commit acts against the law, you will face prosecution. We are talking about a fraud perpetrated over the years that has made the state to lose billions of Naira. So if the governor, who demonstrated the courage to take on this evil, is making moves to prosecute them, then it should not be a surprise.”