–Okowa calls for improved legal service delivery to de-congest the courts
THUR, JANUARY 19 2017-The Delta State government will eventually be saving about N1.9 billion, previously paid to fake government staff, when recommendations of the committee set up to verify staff eligibility is implemented.
The sum is expected to be recovered from public servants who fraudulently falsified their employment records.
The committee’s report was presented to the state governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, Wednesday by the committee chairman Chief Nkem Okwuofu.
Receiving the report from the Committee Governor Okowa decried falsification of documents and also, condemned attitude of those who aid and abet such actions.
“From the report before us, out of 1,113 persons who were invited by the committee, only 376 officers were cleared, 291 are supposed to have retired which means they are receiving salaries they ought not to receive,” the governor stated, asserting, “these set of persons and those who failed to appear before the Committee should be expunged immediately from the payroll.”
Governor Okowa who bemoaned the connivance of staff of Directorate of Establishment and Pensions in the falsification of records, directed the office of the Head of Service to carry out an investigation and ensure that those culpable were disciplined.
He said, “a lot of questions need answers from the Directorate of Establishment because, these anomalies should not arise if they did their work creditably; those involved in these anomalies should be brought to book; this is a wake-up call in the public service that a lot need to be done to sanitize the system because we also have had situations within the public service, especially in the local government system where people who are not entitled to promotion were promoted and those who were due, were denied.”
On the issue of some civil servants who can no longer carry out their functions due to ill health, Governor Okowa directed the office of the Head of Service to liaise with the Ministry of Health to set up a medical board to handle such cases, emphasising, “the verification exercise is not a witch hunt but to ensure that salaries are justifiably earned and only those who worked for it are paid.”
While presenting the report, Chief Okwuofu disclosed that out of the 1, 113 persons invited for the verification exercise, 951 persons were screened, 376 persons cleared and 162 did not appear.
“The Committee discovered that some staff on the payroll who ought to have retired but, for the falsification of records and others whose dates of birth were adjusted ,were reversed to their verified dates and this has resulted in financial gains of N1, 976, 845, 123, 21” Chief Okwuofu who was accompanied by members of the Committee said.
Meanwhile, Okowa has called for improved legal service delivery to de-congest the courts.
The Governor made the call during the swearing-in ceremony of Justice Vincent Ofesi as a Judge of the Delta State High Court.
According to the governor, there was the need for improved legal service delivery “in accordance with our democratic principles and the rule of law,” asserting that such should manifest in the decongesting of the courts.
Governor Okowa who congratulated Justice Ofesi on his appointment, observed that “the National Judicial Council has deliberated and found Hon. Justice Vincent Ofesi suitable for appointment as a Judge; he represents one of our finest materials on the Bench and is coming to this position with wide and varying experience for the benefit of our State and citizens.”
“I expect you (Justice Ofesi) to do what is required by dedicating your services to uplifting the image of the judiciary in our State and the nation, through your discipline and the maintenance of a high level of integrity,” Governor Okowa advised, adding, “this assignment requires deep knowledge, wisdom, commitment and fairness and I sincerely hope you will strive to make the State, nation and your family, proud by your actions on the Bench.”
Responding, Justice Ofesi while thanking those who contributed to the success of the event, assured the government and people of Delta State of his commitment to discharging his functions without fear or favour and to the best of his abilities.
The ceremony was attended by members of the state executive council, the Chief Judge of Delta State, Justice Marshal Umukoro, President of the Customary Court of Appeal, Justice Stella Oghene, judges and family members of Justice Ofesi.