Betta Edu confirms payment of N585m vulnerable grant into private account

Minister of Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Betta Edu, has confirmed her ministry paid N585 million naira into a private account.

Media aide to the Minister, Rasheed Zubair, disclosed this in a statement released on Friday, January 5.

Edu said the fund was for the implementation of grants to vulnerable groups in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ogun, and Lagos states.

She described allegations that she diverted the fund as a blackmail.

A letter from the minister instructing the Accountant-General of the Federation Oluwatoyin Madein to pay the sum of N585 million into a private account had circulated on social media recently.

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

The payment was to be made into a United Bank of Africa (UBA) account belonging to Oniyelu Bridget Mojisola.

Confirming the payment, the minister said in the statement issued on her behalf, “The general public is invited to note that the Renewed Hope Grant for Vulnerable Groups is one of the social intervention schemes of the Federal Government, which the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation is implementing.

“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.”

The ICIR reports that the minister’s claim on the rightness or legality of paying public fund into a private account contravenes Nigeria’s Public Sector Financial Regulation Act (2009).

Section 713 of the Act (under Chapter Seven) states: “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.”

Edu’s letter authorising the Accountant-General to make the payment has sparked reactions from Nigerians, who were concerned that public funds were being sent to a private individual.

“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 her media aide, the minister said the payment followed due process and described reactions to the payment as sponsored attempts to blackmail her.

“It is glaring that the same sponsored disgruntled elements in the past few days have been trying to smear the Honourable Minister, Dr Betta Edu, and stain her integrity because she alerted the Federal Government attention to the ongoing N44.8 billion fraud in NSIPA.




    “These elements have been trying to link her to a phantom fraud and are behind this latest misadventure. However, this latest vile effort of theirs is another infantile blackmail doomed for evisceration. For the avoidance, the said N585,198,500.00 was approved, and it is meant for the implementation of grants to vulnerable groups in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ogun, and Lagos states,” she said.

    Earlier, Edu had been accused of being involved in a N3 billion fraud by the National Social Investment Programme Agency (NSIPA) fraud.

    She, however, denied being involved in the fraud, saying she never withdrew the sum of N3 billion from the NSIPA account.

    NOTE: This report was updated to reflect the public sector financing regulation act. 

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

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