As it is generally known, the redemption of promises is a good virtue that is encouraged by all. Leaders, especially in a democratic setting are often assessed based on the promises they made to the electorates, and how far they have fulfilled those promises.
One matter that generated a lot of reactions in the people of Bauchi State and Nigeria, in general, is the arrest of five suspects in connection with pension scam, fraud and forgery amounting to N21, 580,000. The suspects are employees of the Bauchi State Local Government Pension Board.
The best part of the whole event was that arrest was greeted by delight and almost everyone was glad to see Governor Bala Mohammed really means business. He means his words and is leading by example.
In fact, I read the comments of some supporters of the opposition party on the social media expressing their support for such resolve of the governor to rid the salary and wage system of the state of corruption.
If one may recall, prior to the emergence of Governor Bala Mohammed as the Governor of Bauchi State, to be precise during his campaign, he made a promise to address the irregularities in the state’s salary regime.
On the 10th of September, 2020. the Governor in his speech while hosting a media parley reiterated his determination to address the menace of fraud in the Bauchi state payroll.
The Governor said, “For those who followed my campaign trail, I made a promise to workers in the state that I will ensure prompt payment of their salaries. This is because as a federalist and a core administrator in Federal Service, I have empathy for civil servants. In Bauchi State, especially the workers, are among the core group of my supporters.
“I promised workers during my campaign that I will sort out the mess associated with our salaries. Yes, I have kept my promise by ensuring that workers are paid as at when due. In fact, we pay salaries on or before 26 of every month.
“But we are still not there yet. The reason is simple and painful. Unfortunately, the civil service in Bauchi State has suffered from systematic attrition bastardized by fraudulent practices and outright corruption. My predecessors who attempted to sanitize the system, either lack of the courage, political will or they were frustrated by cartel or beneficiaries of this organized financial criminality……..
“We must identify them, name them, prosecute them and if found guilty, jail them. We must recover the loot from them and their collaborators. Anything short of this will mean surrendering our future and generations yet unborn. Posterity will not forgive us if we just sit back and fold our arms. That is why this Media Parley is apolitical.
“We have invited all stakeholders, political parties, respected technocrats, notable elders, financial experts, organised labour as well as the private sector and every citizen to discuss the way forward”……….
Perhaps when the Governor made this promise, they (the swindlers) thought it was just a mere political bluff. Fortunately! but unfortunately for them, the end dawns on some these corrupt element as five staff of the Bauchi State Local Government Pension Board have been arrested by the State Police Command for an alleged pension scam Saturday, 19th September 2020.
The arrest was made by the police in an effort to curb crime and criminality in collaboration with the state government and to sanitize the salaries and wages system in the state’s civil service.
The suspects according to a statement by the Command through the PPRO, DSP Ahmed Wakili was arrested for criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust by a public servant, criminal misappropriation, forgery and fraud.
The PPRO stated that on the 12th September 2020, at about 1:00 PM, a letter of complaint was received from the office of Executive Governor of Bauchi State, signed by the Private Principal Secretary (PPS) to the Governor, Musa Mohammed Kirfi, against the following suspects.
The suspects arrested are Mohammed B. Mohammed Auditor of the Board, Musa Bappayo, Computer Operator of the Board and Samaila Musa who are all staff of Local Government Pension Board.
The PPRO further stated that the letter was received through the office of Commissioner of Police for discrete investigation after which the suspects were said to have confessed to having inserted 7 illegal beneficiaries’ names on the pension payroll.
The names illegally and fraudulently inserted are Mohammed Namamu (AKA MUHAMADUN FAIZA, UNITY BANK); Abubakar Muazu (ACCESS BANK) who were the candidates/beneficiaries introduced by Samaila Musa aged 38 years of Federal Low-cost who inserted the names of a non-civil servant of the state and are receiving N65,000 and N85,000 per month for the period of 18 months which accumulated to N2, 700,000.
Also, Yasir Sulaiman, 37 years of Bayan Airport has two candidates, who were receiving N320,000 per month for the period of 23 months which accumulated to N7.360,000 while Garba Bala aged 39 years of Tirwun who introduced two candidates receiving N300,000 per month for 36 months which accumulated to N10.800,000.
The release also contained that Umar Mohammed Madara aged 49 years of Ibrahim Bako quarters has one candidate, who he receives N120,000 per month for the period of 6 months which accumulated to N720,000.
The PPRO added that all suspects have since been arrested while investigations are on progress just as efforts are on top gear to arrest the other fleeing suspects.
Funnily, other culprits have upon noticing the arrest of their confederates started fleeing so as to evade being humiliated. However, the PPRO stated the police is putting more effort to arrest the fleeing suspects.
From the look on their faces, one can see shame, regret and indignity which will not avail them anything today. If they had listened to their conscience when affording themselves the indulgence of the public treasury, perhaps the story would have been otherwise.
I hope this will serve as a deterrent to others who take corruption as a norm. As it is often said ‘nine days for the thief, one day for the owner’.