…Over N155m allocation misused
…Excess N117m staff promotion arrears siphoned
By Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna
A multi-million naira monumental fraud allegations rocking the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Referred Hospital and Training Center, NTBLTC, located at Saye in Zaria local government area of Kaduna State has been uncovered.
Investigation revealed that N137,871,508 of the N155,622,325 released to the hospital from the budget office of the federation in July 20th, 2015, as payment of staff promotion arrears from 2013, was grossly mismanaged and looted.
Findings revealed that out of the N137,871,508 approved to settle arrears of staff promotion and allowances, only about N10 million was expended by the principal of the Centre, Dr. Shehu Labaran, staff sources have revealed.
A document obtained from budget office containing approval of one Stella Toluwase, stated that out of the N155,622,325 released for the Tuberculosis, TB, and Leprosy Centre in Zaria, N137,871,508 was meant for arrears of staff promotion allowance and salaries, N13,448,113 for pension and N4,482,704 for National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS.
Similarly, the nominal roll of the substantive staffs of the centre obtained by journalists shows that the hospital has 285 staff with 108 of them on grade levels 07-16, while 177 are on grade levels 02-06, respectively.
However, due to recruitment racketeering, more staffs were singlehandedly recruited, which was personally handled by the principal of the centre, Dr. Shehu Labaran, making the number of personnel to have increased to over 500.
The development generated bad-blood, tension and suspicion among the management staff of federal government health establishment, resulting to petitions.
Accordingly, the internal crises and bickering among staff and management of the Centre have also resulted to petition against the principal, who is also being accused of polarizing the hospital along ethnic, tribal, religious and regional lines.
The principal, in a petition written to the ICPC, by former accountant (name withheld), was also accused of running the national hospital more like a personal business than a public institution because of lack of a Governing Board of the centre.
According to a lab science unit head, who also pleaded anonymity, the principal is being accused of running the hospital finances using his own personal account and his own personal email address to send official correspondences.
Findings also revealed that those recently recruited into the hospitals workforce were yet to resume work, but salary account numbers have already been opened for them at the United Bank for Africa, UBA, Zaria, and monies paid into them.
A document also obtained from the centre bearing Kalma Ezekiel, a medical lab scientist, who copied Kabiru Sarki Bello and other management staff, respectively, revealed and acknowledged that N135 million was credited to the principal for payment of promotion arrears even when there was no outstanding of up to N10 million, adding that the balance of the money was shared by him and his cronies, who siphon money through the centre.
The statement, dated July 2016, and April 2016, reads in parts: “I am aware of the one hundred and thirty-five million naira credited to you for payment of promotion you did not have any outstanding payment of up to10 million. The balance money you and your cronies shared – I did not expose you, I have evidence in my possession.
“I also know you have used your company, Sambex Farms, crookishly to earn award of contract to build haematology lab, which the sum of over 60 million was remitted to you.
“The evidence of the letter you personally wrote to Abuja to outsource security, gardeners, Paul Davis and Cafeteria got a boost, and the sum of 50 million naira was also released to you – it is crystal clear that you did not outsource them and the said amount was entirely benefitted by you.
“You singlehandedly bought a second-hand 508 Peugeot car at a whooping sum of 10 million naira without approval from anywhere – you also did not get approval for the purchases of Hilux, 405, Hiace Bus. Government expenditures are not spent with careless abandon. Approvals must be sought and granted before you can spend government money,” he stated.
Earlier, the statement averred that “I still feel I have a stake in Saye (The Centre’s host community name), and that probably translates to why am still concerned, because if a petition is written today, I may have to be called upon to answer some questions; as such, I still have a stake, and that’s why I want every pending issue to be sorted out before I finally handover particularly the issue of recruitment, which seems more of racketeering than the actual procedure.
“I feel you do not really know the right procedure and you won’t budge to all the advises I had rendered to you in this regard and so many others, which culminate to the incessant quarrels we have been having – my write-up today is to further advice you and bring out some points for you to ponder on, so that you can appreciate my protection on you, not because I have soiled my hands but because I seriously sympathize with you. You know quite well – I stooped for you, but I refused to condescend, which are reasons behind our quarrels.
“Recruitment: the recruitment you are presently undertaking isn’t the procedure. There is no authority of any sort that warrants this recruitment. In practical terms, you do not have any approval to do this recruitment. You had two approvals, which you refused to utilize.
“The first was the exercise where two representatives from federal character commission, health and your humble self, Mr. Clement and myself conducted. You discountenanced that.
“The second being the waiver we got from Head of Service in year 2014, which also expired December of the same year. I may ask you, which authority do you have to conduct this fresh exercise?
“I condoned your excesses on this matter. Instead of reporting you, I obeyed your instructions without creating problems; rather, I protected you against my wish and procedure. Yet, I’m your number one enemy, which you flaunt at every chance you get,” they narrated, lamentably.
Also, in an interview with ex-chairman, medical and health workers union and former head, lab sciences in confidence, he stated that the principal is a ‘serial liar,’ saying, unlike in Kano, the attitude of people of Zaria themselves does not help matters.
He said, “The man uses religion to deceive people that because he is an Hausa and a Muslim, was the reason why people hate him, because when Yoruba man and other tribes were heads, nobody said anything. The man has flooded the centre with too many staff running to over 500 for that small place. My unit alone was 12 people.
“The place is like market now, with so many people doing nothing. He took one of my predecessor’s to Emirate and was shedding crocodile tears, one Jonathan, but the secretary told him off, and asked him to mind his business.
“The problem with Zaria people is ‘long throat.’ If he give plenty sheep and rice during Sallah, they forget what he is doing there at the centre. I left there in June 2017; before then, our salary, allowance has been cut down to as low as about N100, 000 from N200 000. Some are even far lower than that.
“There are no checks and balances. He has been transferred several times; he refused to go. He pays staff the way he wants. He uses religion even for recruitment. The man is terribly corrupt. As he is employing, some staff are running away. He receives up to N78 million excess salaries; he employs and uses the excess as their salaries to cover up.
“The Minister is aware. He (the minister) knows that all his people are supporting him so he has to keep quiet. And if the minister keeps quiet, what more of the permanent secretaries, directors?
“Previous directors in the ministry knew about this, and feast from it. House Committees knew about it. When they wanted to ask, they told them, and they said, ‘Ok, put our own.’ Those, who are assisting him in the dirty deals, were transferred. He went and worked them back,” he regretted.
Contacted, the principal was said to have traveled out of the country, while other management staff absented from office. However, the head of the account, Buhari Abdullahi, who spoke to our reporter on phone, said ICPC has already investigated the centre on most of the allegations raised and did not find the principal guilty.
He also refuted most of other allegations, but agreed that patient-feeding dropped from 3 to 2; also saying that the N1000 charge on each patient was meant for admission fees obtainable in every medical center. He also stated that an online medium had already reported the matter.
An insider staff feeding journalists with information confirmed all the allegations raised. According to the staff, “The management staff device many strategies to defraud government and staff, some of which include the use of integrated payroll and personnel information, IPPIS, to defraud the government; the overpayment of account and some admin staff, use of personal account to transact government businesses, employing of staff and posting them to local government primary health care and under federal government payroll, investing in personal properties with government funds, use of federal ministry of health as plc.; using the cleaning company to defraud the government, carrying out employment without involving federal character commission, bribing people in the head office to post staff of the centre that are threat to him, employing staff and posting them to his house in Abuja and Kano.”