Benue SUBEB Unable To Pay Teachers Over Alleged N300m Fraud | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Benue SUBEB Unable To Pay Teachers Over Alleged N300m Fraud

Posted: Jul 13, 2016 at 6:12 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Tor Vande-Acka

Makurdi – Even as the dust over the N750 million alleged fraud in the Benue State House of Assembly (BNHA) is yet to settle, there might have been yet another N300 million fraud that made it difficult for the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) to pay salary of teachers in the state.

Recall that no fewer than 14 Benue lawmakers are currently being questioned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over misappropriation of about N750 million.

Independent gathered that the non-payment of the December 2015 salary of teachers in the state might have been due to misappropriation.

When confronted with the allegations, Philip Tachin, the Chairman of SUBEB in Benue, confirmed that there was a shortfall in the salary of teachers as was given to him by the Bureau for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs (BLGCA) which was hitherto in charge of the payment of teachers salaries in Benue.

He said, “What the Bureau (BLGCA) has given us is N1.5 billion to pay (salary of teachers). Now this N1.5 billion is not complete because of certain deductions. When the bureau gave it to us we went through it and discovered that there were some shortages but the government said we should go ahead and pay the salaries so that the teachers are not just left like that till we reconcile the whole thing (figures) it gave to us. Once we get the accurate number of teachers then we will pursue the balance which is remaining.”

While he stated that the two different handover notes given to him by the Bureau were not comprehensive, he also observed that there were inconsistencies in figures given to him in the two handover notes.

When asked to clarify, he said, “What I meant precisely by that (inconsistency in figures handed to SUBEB by Bureau) is that there was an initial handover in February which we were given the list of teachers and the total wage bill was in the region of N1.8 billion or thereabouts. But now, when we got this final one (handover) they gave us N1.5 billion to pay the teachers and there were other deductions; the gross was not there, the N1.5 billion is the net. So after the deductions which fall within the gross, the net was N1.5 billion.”

Tachin who said his office only recently took over the payment of teachers in the state from the BLGCA further lamented that the payroll handed over to him by the Bureau was riddled with multiple names and account numbers which SUBEB needed to sort out before it can determine who are ghosts on its payroll.

His words: “What we discovered for now are multiple appearance of names on that list. So, we are trying to sort it out; to find out why the same names with the same account numbers will be appearing multiple times and those are the issues that have taken us a long time to figure out before the payment of salaries. However, we are trying to crosscheck the multiple appearances of names and once we establish from our own end what the accurate number of teachers on the payroll is… If we have questions to ask the Bureau we will ask them to supply us with the information.”

The SUBEB chairman also explained, “There are some issues we need to resolve (with BLGCA) because when the Bureau gave us the handover, we discovered that there were some anomalies in the document.

“The figure that was given to us was not consistent with the total number of teachers, the names that we have seen on the payroll. We are trying to resolve this with the Bureau; we have not come to a conclusion yet and that is why it has also taken us a while to pay the salaries of teachers.

“We asked for a soft copy from Bureau but they didn’t give us; they gave us rather the hard copies, which means for us to put into our system before we can pay here. It means we have to convert it to soft copies and it is a lot of work. And so, that has forced us to delay (payment of salaries).

Asked if he suspected a fraud, Tachin said, “I won’t say that yet because it is never good to jump to conclusions. But we are doing our own investigations; once we do our own careful investigation and arrive at something we are not going to hide it.

“We are going to make it known to government. In fact, I will present it to the governor but for now I cannot talk about smelling a rat; I cannot talk about any fraud or anything at all because we have not arrived at a conclusion.”

But when Independent sought to get the side of the BLGCA, Titus Zam, the Special Adviser, who earlier discussed with the SUBEB Chairman on the issue rebuffed us.

It was following this that probably as an after-thought, Tachin also threatened to take our Benue correspondent who had him on tape to court should he file the report.