Auditors have uncovered a massive payroll fraud in the Presidential Amnesty Programme, the programme’s Strategic Communication Committee has said.
The SCC Chairman, Nature Dumale Kieghe, who spoke at the weekend in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, cited the case of an individual who was collecting the stipends meant for 33 persons.
Kieghe, an ex-agitator, said about 513 persons were linked to multiple payments, adding that the new management of PAP was poised to reposition the scheme for optimum performance.
He explained that following the development, the Interim Administrator, Major General Barry Ndiomu, initiated a verification of all PAP beneficiaries as part of the ongoing investigation.
He explained that some beneficiaries had yet to receive their monthly stipends because of the audit and Ndiomu’s efforts to clean the payroll, adding that all affected and genuine outstanding stipends would be paid after verification was completed.
Describing General Ndiomu’s efforts as proactive, Kieghe said upon assumption of office, the amnesty boss renegotiated all existing contracts with vendors and in the process saved N1.5 billion for PAP.
He said: “Ndiomu initiated an internal and external audit of PAP’s database.
“The auditors uncovered monumental fraud, especially in the payment of stipends where an individual is receiving stipends meant for 33 persons through fraudulent means.
“The proactive interim administrator has ordered immediate verification of all delegates to be carried out next week.
“Delegates are to rest assured that whoever is verified will be paid immediately.
“Upon assumption of office, General Ndiomu (retd) initiated plans to renegotiate the existing contracts with vendors.
“In the process, he has been able to save over N1.5 billion.”
Kieghe said Ndiomu had concluded plans to set up cooperatives to be managed by ex-agitators and supervised by consultants and experts in grant management.
He said: “The ex-agitators will be given grants of over N500 million and revolving loans.
“They are to take responsibility for the success of the cooperatives.
“International donor agencies will be involved in providing grants and aid.
“He has opened channels of discussions with the foreign loans.”
Kieghe noted that five months after his appointment, Ndiomu had replaced the Train, Employ and Mentor model with the Train, Empower and Exit to allow empowered beneficiaries to exit the programme.
While observing that Ndiomu has shown more commitment, patriotism and transparency in the management of PAP, he said the PAP boss had also indicated interest to revive the vocational training centres for ex-agitators.
He said: “General Ndiomu has concluded arrangements to complete the construction of the four vocational training centres located in Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta and Ondo States.
“The centres will be fully equipped with state-of-the-art equipment.
“General Ndiomu is committed to the idea of transforming the lives of the ex-agitators through innovative and structured training schemes.
“It is imperative to inform members of the public that Ndiomu has not delisted anybody but is working round the clock to sanitise the PAP register for the good of not only the ex-agitators but also the Niger Delta region.”
Kieghe called on aggrieved ex-agitators to suspend all their planned actions against the PAP management and support General Ndiomu’s efforts to sanitise the programme.