, KANO, Nov 3 – A one-month old baby, said to hold a diploma, was on the Nigerian government payroll, officials have discovered, exposing the levels to which corruption runs in Africa’s most populous country.
The name of the infant was recently found on the payment voucher of a local government council in northern Nigeria during an exercise to fish out ghost employees from a bloated workforce, Garba Gajam, justice commissioner for Zamfara State told AFP late Wednesday.
“In the on-going verification exercise of the payrolls … in the state we discovered that a month-old baby was among the employees of one local government who is paid a salary,” Gajam said.
“What is even more astonishing is that it was indicated in the payroll that the infant holds an ordinary national diploma,” said Gajam, revealing that the discovery is a “widespread trend in the local government service where senior officials stuff payrolls with the names of their wives and children”.
In August the name of a five-month-old baby was found on the payroll of another local municipality, prompting an investigation.
“And we have been receiving amazing revelations which point to the rot and abysmal level of corruption at the local government level,” Gajam said.
Perpetrators will be have to refund the siphoned funds and face prosecution for misappropriating public funds.
Zamfara is one of the 12 predominantly Muslim states in northern Nigeria that adopted the sharia law which imposes amputation of a wrist for theft.
So far no-one has been tried for corruption in a sharia court in the state since the re-introduction of the penal code in 1999.
In 2001, two cattle rustlers had their right wrists amputated in separate sentences, drawing local and international outrage.