Although reports had revealed that Mr. Harold Monu, an assistant to the Delta State Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, on ICT was recently arrested by the police over the multi billion naira scam rocking the state’s payroll, the state government insists that Monu has helped to stamp out fraud in the state payroll.
The arrest of Monu, was reportedly made in Asaba, the Delta state capital, on Sunday for allegedly defrauding the government of billions of naira through the biometric update and automation of the state’s payroll initiated by the state government to cut down on its rising wage bill.
In a very staunch defence of the governor’s aide, the Delta State government absolved Mr. Monu of any wrong doing, describing him as a key anti-fraud crusader in the efforts of the state government to stem the tide of fraudulent practices in the e-payment biometric system of the state’s payroll.
A statement titled: “RE: GOVERNOR UDUAGHAN’S AIDE ARRESTED OVER MULTI-BILLION NAIRA SALARY FRAUD”, signed by the Delta State Commissioner for Information, Barr. Chike Ogeah and made available to Blank NEWS Online, reads thus:
“The attention of Government of Delta State has been drawn to a news story posted on* premiumtimesng.com *and other online journals on the above subject. The story is a complete distortion of the facts and it is imperative to state the facts here.
“His Excellency, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, Governor of Delta State, had identified the burgeoning state wage bill as a source of concern and constituted a committee to address it. The committee which had Dr.(Mrs.) Beatrice Omeni, a former Secretary to the (Delta) State Government (SSG), swung into action on February 12, 2012 by designing a three-pronged model to verify the wage bill and qualify only bonafide members of staff for the state’s payroll.
“The first part of the exercise was for all staff to physically present themselves for capture of their fingerprints and photographs which are stored in a biometric database. The second stage is for staff to present their original letters of employment, birth certificates/age declaration, letter of promotion and academic credentials which are scanned into a document management system database.
“The third step is to implement a biometric time and attendance system to compliment the other two parts. Right now, the biometrics and documents phases have been successfully completed with documented savings of over N362 million to date and over 400 “ghost workers” have been removed from the state’s payroll.
“The final phase which is the biometric time and attendance system will deliver even greater savings to the state. Contract for its execution has been awarded to a competent vendor who has a track record of success in a sister state. This phase involves a lot of funds as biometric time and attendance devices will be deployed in all government offices and schools across the state, hence the involvement of the private sector and at no cost to the government.
“The Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on ICT, Mr. Harold Monu, has been the spearhead of this campaign to stamp out fraud in the state payroll and has been documented to have prevented fraud right from the first month of his appointment in July 2011. He ensured a bank employee was arrested while trying to inject names into the payroll. More recently in June 2013, he discovered a fraud and alerted the banks thereby facilitating the arrest of two suspects trying to cash state fund illegally transferred to their accounts. They have been in the custody of the Delta State Police Command since July 2013.
“Even while Mr. Monu was on vacation, he was able to thwart another fraud attempt in the September 2013 payroll when upon being alerted via email by a bank employee to verify some unusual transactions, he instructed the banks to keep the suspects’ accounts frozen. Another suspect was also arrested and detained in the process.
“Mr. Monu was invited by the police on resumption of duty to give account of his knowledge of events as the head of the biometric unit and was subsequently released after making his statement. There was no financial loss to the state as this attempt was nipped in the bud through the efforts of Mr. Monu. The office of the Account General of the State which is in-charge of payments of salaries is heading its own investigations”, the statement concluded.