Pension fraud uncovered in Cross River

There are indications that some officials of the Cross River State Local Government Pension Board might lose their job and face prosecution over an N8m fraud.

This was contained in a petition sent by the Cross River Auditor-General for Local Government, Mr. Anthony Ayine, to the Cross River State House of Assembly.

The auditor-general also sent the same petition dated September 8, 2015 to the state Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, explaining that in the course of auditing, he unravelled a pension fraud of N8, 883, 150.74 allegedly perpetrated by the board.

He said more fraud could be detected if a further forensic audit was carried out.
Ayine, who spoke with our correspondent in Calabar on Tuesday, alleged that the pension board manipulated the payment of pension and gratuity to the beneficiary of a dead official who served for 32 years in the Office of the Auditor-General.

He said, “The gratuity due to the late official was N1.24m but that the board allegedly paid over N7m to the beneficiary of the late official. When we concluded our audit report we discovered a pension fraud of over N8m.

“In the course of our investigation, we came across fraudulent payment of gratuity and pension to beneficiary of our late official which in actual sense did not receive such amount. The staff served for 32 years and she died on grade level 10, Step 15.

“The gratuity due to this official was supposed to be over N1m but because of manipulation we discovered that the board paid over N7m to the beneficiary of the late official.”
He alleged that the fraud was perpetuated Mr. John Adie, who was in charge of the local government pension board from 2010 to 2015.

Reacting to the claims, a former director of Local Government Pension Board, Mr. John Adie, described the allegation levelled against the board as false.

He said, “As far as I know and from all available records, I am the only director that ever instituted reforms in the pension board. There is no fraud in the board rather I introduced a lot of reforms in the place. The kind of reforms I introduced was such that all pension files were captured in the data base and we have a website.

“Pensioners can stay anywhere and access their records. For the Auditor-General to come and say that there is fraud in pension board is something I don’t understand; he wants me to expose him.”
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