For alleged refusal to go on retirement after reaching and passing the mandatory 35 years of service as well as falsification of documents, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) South-East Zone, on Thursday arrested Ms. Brown Mary Njokanma, the Delta state auditor general for local governments.
A source in the EFCC Enugu zonal office who pleaded for anonymity told SaharaReporters that Ms. Njokanma was arrested following a petition against her, but that she was later granted bail.
“We told her clearly that she was still in our hook and we shall get back to her because the evidence brought forward by the petitioner against her are overwhelming. A woman who came to service with level four and through the service went to school and came back and rose to that position [should not] deliberately refuse to retire,” the source said.
“With available evidence and records with us shows that the woman was actually employed in 1973 in the defunct Midwestern state. Our findings have also shown that the Bendel Development and Planning Authority where she first got her employment in 1973 [had] been in existence since 1960 in the defunct Midwestern state,” the source added.
The petition was written by a nongovernmental organization called Excellent World Foundation, and entitled “Fraudulent and Illegal Collection of Salaries By Mrs M. Brown Njokanma, Auditor General, Local Government, Delta State.” Signed by its executive director, Mr. Michael Enahoro Michael, and obtained by SaharaReporters, it accused the supposedly retired auditor general of flouting civil service rules and falsification of documents to perpetually remain in office although her tenure had elapsed.
The petition also accused Ms. Njokanma of fraudulently and illegally collecting salaries and entitlements when she ought to have retired in 2008 according to service rules, and appealed to the anti-graft agency to compel her to proceed on retirement as well as order her to refund all the salaries collected illegally from the coffers of Delta State.
The petition underlined Ms. Njokanma’s date of employment in the civil service in November 1973 under the Midwestern state, albeit as Miss Mary Aizebioje, her maiden name. It asserted that Miss Mary Aizebioje was the same person as Ms. Brown Mary Njokanma.
Elements of the petition read as follows:
- “The said Mrs. Brown M. Njokanma has severally falsified her date of birth and that of her appointment to continue in this fraudulent act. Contrary to the evidence, a senior staff list was published on April 1, 1987 (official document 5 of 1987) where it was fraudulently and wrongly stated that her date of birth and date of first appointment are 12th, December, 1957 and 14th, August, 1981 respectfully.
- “Again in the Delta state government senior staff list of 31st, December, 2006, Mrs. Njokanma fraudulently and wrongly stated her date of birth and first appointment to be 12/12/1957 and 14/8/1983. Mrs. Brown M. Njokanma in the falsification of her date of birth and date of first appointment is to avert possible retirement and to gain pecuniary benefits from the Delta state government, her employer.”
- “She sat for the confirmation and promotion in 1982 which shows she was employed in 1973 and couldn’t have been employed in 1981 and [written] the examination in 1982 and her date of first appointment confirmed to take effect from October 1, 1975.” stressing that Mrs. Njokanma having been employed in 1973 ought to have retired since 2008 as the mandatory 35 years in service and anything contrary is a fraud and illegal collection of salaries not due to her since 2008 till date.
SaharaReporters had before now obtained a letter dated November 13, 1973 that indicated that Ms. Njokanma was hired by the then Bendel State civil service in 1973. Her first posting was to the then Bendel Development and Planning Authority, Benin City. A source familiar with civil service rules and procedures told SaharaReporters that she was due for mandatory retirement as far back as November 2008.
Another letter obtained by SaharaReporters, dated February 16, 1976 and issued by the Bendel Development and Planning Authority (reference No. CPA 315/9) confirmed Ms. Njokanma’s appointment. Other documents reveal that Ms. Njokanma applied for in-service training variously on September 9, 1976, February 3, 1977 and October 23, 1978 – and all were granted.
A source confided in SaharaReporters: “Every month Mrs. Njokanma collects N570, 000 as salary outside other entitlements. From November 2008, when she was supposed to retire, till date, she has received over 31 million Naira. So many letters have been written to various offices, but the more all these letters are written the more she carries millions of naira to bribe her way to continue to stay in office.”
An impeccable source disclosed that because of the special interest of the permanent secretary, Directorate of Establishment and Pension; the head of the state’s civil service; the chairman of the civil service commission and some other top government officials in the matter, they continued aiding and abetting the auditor general to evade retirement.
Contacted by phone, Mrs. Njokanma confirmed her arrest and said that she was given a clean bill of health by ICPC through a letter to the state government but when asked for a copy of the letter she was unable to provide it.
“Yes I was at EFCC and I gave them my position too and they promised to get back to me again. The issue has gone to court before and the court struck it out, we have gone to EFCC and they said my tenure is valid and I don’t know why they are still dragging this matter.”