BREAKING NEWS: Bloated Civil Service: Former Gov Ayade’s aides trade accusations over staggering fraud

Bloated Civil Service: Former Gov Ayade’s aides trade accusations over staggering fraud

Bloated Civil Service: Former Gov Ayade's aides trade accusations over staggering

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More revelations have emerged over how key aides to former Governor, Ben Ayade are allegedly enmeshed in staggering financial frauds and increasing monthly wage bills.

This followed the sacking of the former chairman of Cross River State Civil Service Commission, Uko Inaku by Governor Bassey Otu last week and replacing him with Maurice Effiwat

The former key aides have come to public spaces to rain counter accusations against themselves.

Former Auditor General of the State, John Odey first opened the can of worms in the management of financial resources and allegations of fraud by former Head of Service, Ogbang Akwaji and former Accountant General of Cross River State, Mr Joseph Adie.

In a widely broadcast radio interview, the former auditor general posed several questions to both former dignitaries.

Odey alleged that the former accountant general, secured a loan of N3bn on behalf of the state in 2016 for the Ministry of Social Housing to build affordable housing.

He said, however, that when Ayade noticed outrageous hidden charges, he requested the former accountant general to return the loan.

“You did not. In 2018, an additional unsolicited loan of N2bn was credited to that same account, culminating in Fidelity bank illegally deducting interest on loans that the state did not utilise.”

The former Auditor General said when he briefed the ex-governor, two consultants were reportedly engaged to ascertain the total amount illegally taken from the state account. The consultants, Bestwort Consulting, revealed that N1.4bn was taken from the state while Lija Agro Consultants revealed about N875m.

The Auditor General claimed that the former Accountant General hastily closed the account in a letter with reference number CRS/AG/OC/4/2019 dated 29th June 2022.

After the former Accountant General was queried by the Auditor General in a letter dated September 12th, 2022 which led to the closure of the said accounts, the state got a paltry N41,500,000 refunded to the government account.

The former Accountant General was also accused of paying .

The former Auditor General, Odey also called out the former Head of Service, Mr Akwaji, slamming him with questions, wondering why the State workforce astronomically rose to 54,000 even though thousands of civil servants had retired from service.

He alleged that Akwaji was accused in their official meeting of attempting to embezzle N50m from the Ministry of Biodiversity and Forestry Commission and was directed to the within 48 hours with evidence of refunds to the Auditor General.

Akwaji was challenged to show evidence that the former governor approved the elongated list of people he employed.

“Why are there still ghost workers in the payroll even when former Governor Ayade gave you money to do a personnel Audit in 2022?”, Odey asked Akwaji.

Clarifying the matter during an interview, the former Head of Service, Akwaji said: “When Gov Otu took over power, he set up a transition committee where I made an elaborate and copious presentation, showing that the problem actually is with the Auditor General, John Odey.

“Before he came, the practice was a tripod where the office of the Head of Service generated the payroll, passed to the auditor general for vetting. Thereafter, he will pass it to the Accountant General for payment. This ensured transparency, checks and balances. At one point, the even sent a team to come and understudy.

“I didn't carry out verification exercises throughout my 18 months in office to ascertain the workforce because I was not granted any approval. But my predecessor did one. But she met a brick wall with the auditor general who was then a senior special adviser to the governor when she wanted to implement it.

“Thereafter, the auditor general became the one to generate payroll, which is different from the Nominal Roll domiciled in the office of Head of Service which ought to be reconciled from time to time with the payroll. The auditor general wouldn't accept to do it. There are lots of people on the payroll known only to the auditor general who are not on the Nominal Roll. You can see where the ghost workers are.

He equally denied other allegations cautioning that he would not want to join issues and media space should not be used to spew allegations.

The former accountant General, Adie said it is only the ex-auditor general who knows the reasons for the bloated workforce, maintaining that he has his records intact.

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