N585m scandal: Tinubu suspends Betta Edu

PRESIDENT Bola Tinubu has suspended the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu, from office.

This was contained in a statement by the President’s media aide, Ajuri Ngelale, on Monday, January 8.

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.”

Reacting to the minister’s action, 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.

Tinubu also directed the Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to thoroughly investigate all financial transactions involving the ministry and its agencies. 






     

     

    “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 ICIR reported how Nigerians and civil society organisations (CSOs) working in the country demanded the minister’s immediate resignation after she confirmed her approval of the payment of the N585 million into a private account.

    They also demanded a thorough investigation into the payment and called on the EFCC to investigate it.

     

    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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