EFCC grills Betta Edu over N585m scandal

SUSPENDED Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Beta Edu, has presented herself to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over her indictment in an alleged N585 million fraud.

The former minister arrived at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja on Tuesday, January 9, at about 11 a.m., according to the anti-graft spokesperson, Dele Oyewale.

“We asked her to come around, and she has come. She arrived around 11am,” Oyewale told The ICIR.

President Bola Tinubu suspended the embattled doctor-turned-politician on Monday, January 8, after public outrage against her alleged diversion of public fund amounting to N585 million.

Tinubu said his decision to suspend her was in line with his pledges and commitment to uphold integrity, transparency, and accountability in managing the commonwealth of Nigerians.

“The suspended minister is hereby directed to hand over to the permanent secretary of the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, and she is further directed by the President to fully cooperate with the investigating authorities as they conduct their investigation.

“Furthermore, the President has tasked a panel that is headed by the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance to, among other functions, conduct a comprehensive diagnostic on the financial architecture and framework of the social investment programmes with a view to conclusively reforming the relevant institutions and programmes in a determined bid to eliminate all institutional frailties for the exclusive benefit of disadvantaged households and win back lost public confidence in the initiative,” the President added in the statement.

The suspension followed criticisms that trailed her leaked letter instructing the Accountant-General of the Federation, Oluwatoyin Madein, to pay N585 million into a private account managed by United Bank of Africa (UBA) and owned by Oniyelu Bridget Mojisola.

The ICIR reported that Edu, through a statement by her media aide, Rasheed Zubair, confirmed the payment and said the fund was for the payment of grants to vulnerable groups in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ogun, and Lagos states.

She, however, described allegations of diverting the fund as blackmail.






     

     

    Edu claimed that Mojisola was the project Accountant for GVG from the ministry’s finance department, adding that it was legal for such an officer to be paid the fund.

    The ICIR reports that the claim 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 was at the EFCC a day after the former minister of the ministry she led, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, submitted herself to the commission in Abuja for grilling over alleged abuse of office under former President Muhammadu Buhari.

    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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