N585m payment: Tinubu orders thorough investigation into Edu’s ministry

PRESIDENT Bola Tinubu has ordered thorough investigations into allegations of attempts by Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation Betta Edu to divert funds meant for vulnerable groups.

This was contained in a statement by Minister of Information and National Orientation Mohammed Idris on Sunday, January 7.

“The Ministry of Information and National Orientation acknowledges the concerns raised by the public regarding the alleged payment of funds into a private account by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation. We are aware of the narratives circulating widely and wish to assure Nigerians that the government takes these issues most seriously.

“In light of recent events, the President has directed that a thorough and comprehensive investigation be conducted to ascertain the accuracy and validity of the reported details,” the statement partly read.

Idris also disclosed that appropriate actions would be taken if any anomaly is discovered in the course of investigations.

“The public is advised to note, against the backdrop of various unverified narratives circulating on the internet, that the Ministry of Information and National Orientation, under the leadership of Minister Mohammed Idris, is the primary source for verified information about events and actions of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“Only accurate details will be shared with the public. The Ministry is committed to providing timely updates to keep Nigerians informed about the progress of the investigation,” he noted.

Betta Edu has been the subject of criticisms recently following the circulation of a leaked letter where she requested that N585 million be paid into a private account by the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF).

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.

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






     

     

    Defending her action, Edu’s media aide Rasheed Zubair in a statement, said 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,” he noted.

    However, her claim contravenes Nigeria’s Public Sector Financial Regulation Act (2009), which provides in Section 713 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.”

    Accountant-General of the Federation Oluwatoyin Madein also disclosed in a statement that her office did not carry out Edu’s request, adding the OAGF would not make payments on behalf of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs)

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

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