Accountant-General debunks paying N585m requested by Edu

ACCOUNTANT-GENERAL of the Federation (AGF) Oluwatoyin Madein has said her office did not carry out the payment of N585 million naira requested to be paid into a private account by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation Betta Edu.

This was disclosed in a statement by the director of press, Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF), Bawa Mokwa, on Saturday, January 6.

“The AGF explained that although her office received the said request from the ministry, it did not carry out the payment. The ministry was, however, advised on the appropriate steps to take in making such payments in line with the established payment procedure.

“The AGF noted that in such situations, payments are usually processed by the affected ministries as self-accounting entities and no bulk payment is supposed to be made to an individual’s account in the name of project accountant,” Mokwa noted.

The AGF made this clarification n reaction to a leaked letter from the minister requesting that N585 million naira be paid into a United Bank of Africa (UBA) account belonging to Oniyelu Bridget Mojisola, which went viral recently.

The funds were meant for grants to vulnerable groups in four states: Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Lagos and Ogun, as confirmed by the minister.

“I hereby approve the payment of the cumulative sum of N585,189,500. These are payments for programmes and activities of the Renewed Hope grant for Vulnerable Groups,” Edu noted in the letter.

However, in the statement by the OAGF, Madein noted that her office did not make payments on behalf of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) for projects and programmes implemented by the MDAs.

She disclosed that allocations were usually released to the MDAs based on their budget, which leaving them with the responsibility to make payments for their projects.

Madein also said she advised the minister that payments such as these be made directly to the verified bank accounts of beneficiaries.

Edu has recently faced severe criticism for the request but described the backlash as a sponsored smear campaign.






     

     

    A statement released by her media aide Rasheed Zubair on Friday, January 5, stated that due process was followed in making the request. He also claimed that it was “legal in civil service” for a project accountant to receive such funds.

    “Oniyelu Bridget is the Project Accountant for GVG from the Department of Finance, and it is legal in civil service for a staff, the project accountant, to be paid and use the same funds legally and retire the same with all receipts and evidence after the project or programme is completed,” Edu claimed.

    However, her claim contravenes Nigeria’s Public Sector Financial Regulation Act (2009).

    Section 713 of the Act (Chapter Seven) states that “personal money shall in no circumstances be paid into a government bank account, nor shall any public money be paid into a private bank account. An officer who pays public money into a private account is deemed to have done so with fraudulent intention.”

    Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via [email protected] or @ije_le on Twitter.

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