Police cashiers to be arraigned for fraud

Police cashiers are to be arraigned for fraud after an audit at the Ministry of Police Affairs uncovered about 107,000 ghost workers in the Nigeria Police Force.

According to sources,  millions of naira are to be recovered following the conclusion of an investigation into the scam involving police accountants and pay officers.

The exercise, which began in September 2010, allegedly helped uncover fraudulent bank accounts through which monies were being stolen by some  officers at the NPF Mechanised Salary Sections  in the state police  commands

as well as  the Federal Capital Territory.

Our correspondent learnt that a report of the alleged fraud had been submitted  to the Inspector-General of Police, Hafiz Ringim.

It was learnt that the Boko Haram crisis had occupied his time and prevented him from attending to the report.

At the outset of the investigation, about N6bn which would have been stolen by some of the  pay officers and their collaborators in some commercial banks were recovered within two months. Six officers were arrested and arraigned before an Abuja Magistrate’s Court.

Preliminary investigation had indicated that Enosegbe Friday (Police Pay Officer), Mrs. Aguncha Comfort (Accountant)  and  Njenobi James (Internal Auditor) of the  Abia State  Police Command had a case to answer.

The probe also indicted Joseph Olukayode Awoyomi (PPO), Remi Rawa (Internal Auditor) and B. Ariyo (Variation Officer) of the Ondo State Police Command.

They were arraigned for alleged forgery, embezzlement of public funds, diversion of  police funds to  private accounts as well as paying ghost officers and short-paying the rank and file.

The pay officers and accountants were alleged to have opened over 20 accounts where monies were paid monthly and in one instance, monies meant for 10,000 men were diverted to private accounts.

The Consultant in- charge of the audit, Mr. Bayo Adeyemo, was said to have discovered that the staff strength of the force was not up to the 377,000 official number.

Adeyemo added that the audit established that bank officials connived with the PPOs to steal money.

According to him, the officers often delayed payment of salaries unnecessarily while complaints of variated salaries and allowances by officers in some state commands were  received daily.

In one instance, about N15m was paid into some accounts monthly while cheques were cashed in violation of government regulations that all payments must be done through e-payment.

There were also complaints about non-remittance of deductions to the  National Housing Fund and Police Welfare Insurance Scheme by the PPOs.

Ringim had confirmed receiving complaints from the rank and file that their salaries were illegally deducted.