By Our Correspondent
All is not well with civil servants in the employ of the Cross River State Government as for the second month running, they are yet to be paid their monthly emoluments.
Workers in the State were last paid December, 2014 salaries and are being owed January and February, 2015 salaries with no immediate hope of when they will be paid.
The situation is not also different for retired civil servants whose monthly pensions are in arrears. Gratuities to retired officers were last paid in 2008.
This unfortunate situation had before now, been blamed on the dwindling allocations from the federation account, occasioned by the fall in crude oil prices which has ultimately affected the inflows into the federation account and ultimately, allocations from the federally collected pool to States.
Recent developments in the State have however proved that the state’s financial situation may have been further exacerbated by gross corruption and other shady deals perpetrated by officials in the Office of the State Accountant General, Mr. Henry Ojogu.
While a majority of civil servants in the State groan under the biting times following lack of payment of salaries, some few privileged personnel smile to the banks on regular basis and are busy erecting choice residential and commercial houses, building private schools and procuring exotic vehicles.
CrossRiverWatch has received heart rending information on a massive fraud in the Accountant-General’s office amounting to millions of naira that would have been expended on payment of salaries or settlement of other official commitments.
At the center of this fraud is an Assistant Director of Account, Mr. Godwin Ogar who until his recent deployment, was Cashier in-charge of the State’s central accounts in the Accountant-General’s Office. He is presently deployed to the State Electrification Agency as Head of Accounts of the Agency.
The said staff is alleged to have in collusion with other staff of the Accountant-General’s Office, dubiously defrauded the State government through several cash transfers in liaison with some staff of some major commercial banks in Calabar that the State government maintains accounts with, into both private and corporate accounts maintained by them and their proxies.
The bubble is said to have bursted recently when a suspicious transfer of about N7m was allegedly made from a government account into the private account of a lady. This prompted an alarm which led to investigations that eventually traced the said account to the wife of the said Assistant Director of Accounts.
Upon further probe, it is alleged that a whooping sum of over N170m (one hundred and seventy million naira) was discovered in another account belonging to the said Assistant Director of Account in a first generation bank in Calabar.
This astonishing discovery has led to further discreet investigations which have exposed an avalanche of choice property and cars owned by the officer in different locations in Calabar including a storey building he started and completed in four months.
Information at our disposal indicates that some of these accounts may have been frozen on the orders of the State Accountant-General while underground investigations are still on-going to ascertain the extent of fraud perpetrated by the officer and his accomplices.
Interestingly however, despite the magnitude of this fraud, the said officer still walks freely on the streets of Calabar, with adequate opportunity to cover up some of his activities. But CrossRiverWatch also gathered that three of the affected staff have confessed and are willing to make refunds of the looted funds in other to be let off the hook of security and anti corruption agencies.
Attempts by CrossRiverWatch to get a reaction from Mr. Godwin Ogar were unsuccessful as his phone has remained switched off for days since our reporter told him on the the phone that he was a journalist and wanted his reaction on the development.
We hope regulatory agencies in the state are alive to their responsibilities and will take necessary steps to arrest this show of bravado by this crop of civil servants.
CrossRiverWatch was also unable to verify this report from relevant staff in the Office of the Accountant General as our inquiries have been rebuffed by staff who say the matter is too ‘toxic’ for them to comment on.
We shall however keep a tab on the investigation and bring you further details.
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