N585m scandal: Nigerians, CSOs demand Edu’s resignation

NIGERIANS and civil society organisations (CSOs) working in the country, have demanded immediate resignation of the Minister of the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu, after she confirmed her approval of the payment of N585 million into a private account for the implementation of grants to vulnerable groups.

They also demanded a thorough investigation into the payment, and called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to thoroughly probe the payment.

The ICIR reports 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.

Her confirmation 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.

Edu claimed that Mojisola was the project Accountant for GVG from the ministry’s department of finance, 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.”

Meanwhile, days later, her action has continued to generate reactions from concerned authorities, CSOs and Nigerians, with the growing concern that public funds were being diverted to a private account.

Reacting to the situation, the country director of Accountability Lab Nigeria, Friday Odeh, in a chat with The ICIR, criticised the transfer of public fund to personal account by the minister.

He said the nation’s law forbids government officials from moving public funds to private accounts or vice versa.

He also urged President Bola Tinubu to look into the matter, ensure the law takes its course and his government strengthen accountability.

“It is time for the President to ensure accountability mechanisms are strengthened. To ensure that scarce government resources are effectively put to use to serve the most vulnerable, the poor and the underserved. We can’t afford the mismanagement of public funds at this point of governance. Hence, the EFCC and the President should enforce the accountability frameworks to make governance work for Nigerians.

“An this is another opportunity for the President to recommit to Nigerians signatory to the open government partnership to rebuild trust and ensure transparency of government services, including his proposition on the eight-point agenda being implemented by the special adviser on policy across MDAs,” he said.

Similarly, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) called on Edu to resign and submit herself to the  EFCC for investigations.

In the same vein, some Nigerians on social media, particularly on X, have expressed their displeasure over the incident.

A Nigerian based in the United States, Farooq Kperogi, stated in his article that “this is a momentous moment for Tinubu. If he does not fire Edu forthwith and bring her to justice, he has already lost the moral high ground to try Buhari’s corrupt honchos.”

Sarki, another user, in a series of tweets regarding the scandal, emphasised the need for the minister to tender her resignation pending the conclusion of the investigation.

He wrote: “To ensure a fair investigation, @edu_betta should be suspended until all inquiries are finalised. There’s no justification for her to continue as a minister under this administration, especially following Halima Shehu’s suspension. This serves as a genuine test for @officialABAT, @NGRPresident, to demonstrate his commitment to governing the country and combating corruption.



    He also said that the President’s failure to suspend the minister amid ‘serious’ allegations would indicate a double standard.

    “If Betta Edu still has a job by tomorrow morning, then we will know that Bola Ahmed Tinubu is not ready to lead this country. You cannot be swift in suspending Halima Shehu while Edu Betta, who has suspicious academic records and serious allegations against her, still has a job. Suspend her now and allow @officialEFCC to invite her for interrogation,” he wrote.

    Taha, another X user, stated the ministry should be scrapped, arguing it had been a symbol of corruption for years.

    He wrote: “Just like Halima, Betta Edu should be suspended, investigated, and prosecuted if found guilty! The C in C (Commander-in-Chief) should dissolve the Ministry of Humanitarian affairs; it has become a symbol of corruption in the past and present! Empower NEMA to do their job!”

    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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