The Nigerian Pharmaceutical Research Institute, caught this week in the web of a recruitment scam, paid non-existent workers for months, or even years, before hastening this week to replace the fake names, PREMIUM TIMES can report today.
The institute, headed by Karniyus Gamaniel, a professor, paid at least 35 “ghost workers” in several departments, according to new evidence obtained by this newspaper.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported on Wednesday how Mr. Gamaniel, in a secret understanding with the health ministry and the office of the head of service, brushed aside civil service rules requiring that all government employment be duly advertised to allow qualified candidates vie for the openings.
After handpicking candidates for the available 35 positions, the institute scheduled a sham interview with those chosen for Wednesday.
The recruitment exercise was postponed indefinitely after PREMIUM TIMES’ report.
Under the deal, the pharmaceutical agency, NIPRD, was allowed to fill 15 positions, while the head of service and the ministry of health (which supervises the NIPRD), were allotted 10 slots each.
Mr. Gamaniel shared the 15 slots among the seven directorates of the agency, after his initial plan to retain all nearly backfired, with directors in the office threatening to undermine the recruitment.
In response to our earlier report, Professor Gamaniel denied violating any rule, saying the institute obtained appropriate clearance for the process, ostensibly referring to the waiver from the office of the head of service.
He said the candidates for the jobs were drawn from a pool of applications received by the institute in response to a previous advertisement, and argued that placing new advertisement for the openings would have amounted to a waste of government resources.
PREMIUM TIMES has obtained exclusive details of how the institute for months paid salaries and allowances of 35 non-existent names, an indication that this week’s hasty recruitment was to fill those gaps.
The use of “ghost workers” is a common scheme used by dubious Nigerian officials to steal public funds.
In 2014, the federal government said it weeded over 40,000 “ghost workers” from government payroll with the use of a new software, thereby saving over N100 billion.
The figures provided by the finance ministry at the time showed that some ministries and agencies included as much as 5,000 ghost names in their payroll.
At the pharmaceutical institute, in a list of 211 names of staff, PREMIUM TIMES confirmed only 176 to be genuine staff.
The fake names are listed side by side with real names.
There are “ghost” staff for scientific officer, research fellows, junior research fellows, higher science laboratory technologist, and administrative officers.
There are also confidential secretary, accountants, planning officers among other positions.
All the staff were captured in the institute’s 2015 budget, a process facilitated by the finance and accounts office of NIPRD. For its service, the unit was given four slots to fill in the new recruitment.
PREMIUM TIMES understands that the recruitment process should have been hastily completed before end of August, as directed by the office of the head of service.