This Day (Lagos)

29 May 2012

Nigeria: EFCC, SSS Others to Uncover Ghost Workers

The Federal Government has constituted a nine-man Biometric Review Reconciliation Panel to look into the final report on the recently concluded biometric verification exercise on workers in the power sector.

The panel is also to come up with recommendations for immediate resolution of the disagreement between it and members of labour union in the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).

Minister of State for Power, Mr. Darius Ishaku, also confirmed the development when he met with a cross section of Nigerian youths to sensitise them on the new electricity tariff scheduled to take off on June 1.

The panel comprises representatives of the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ministries of Power, Justice, Labour and Productivity as well as State Security Service (SSS), Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSAEAC), National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) and Managing Director of PHCN, Hussein Labo.

The nine-man panel is to be headed by the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, while the BPE is to serve as its operational secretariat. The panel, THISDAY learnt, would be formally inaugurated on June 4, 2012 by President Goodluck Jonathan and will have just two weeks to conclude its assignment.

The just-concluded biometric exercise and verification of all workers in the power sector (both permanent and casuals) revealed about 17,000 ghost workers in PHCN.

But members of NUEE and SSAEAC vehemently rejected the findings, insisting that regular staff that participated in the exercise were not all captured and cleared by the consultant that carried out the verification of all employees in the power sector.

In view of diverse claims and discrepancies in the exercise the panel has been specifically asked to work within established terms of reference, which include: review outstanding verification issues from the exercise, review claims in the documentation presented by PHCN employees, recommend approvals for staff that merit re-verification and institute legal proceedings against ghost workers found in PHCN with their sponsors.

"The panel has been given the authority to consider and re-verify any unverified staff whose particulars are presented to it, as well as refer all questionable claims and sanction, this is because the report of the biometric exercise has been submitted and there actually exists a wide discrepancy between the number claimed by PHCN staff and the number that the verification committee verified," said a presidency source.

According to the source, the ministry of justice, SSS and EFCC are expected to ensure thorough investigation of alleged dubious activities in the verification exercise with a view to providing legal justification to the planned prosecution of ghost workers found in the process.

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