NSIPA Coordinator Arrested, Former Minister to Face EFCC Over N37.1bn Fraud Allegations

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The National Co-ordinator and Chief Executive Officer of the National Social Investment Programme Agency (NSIPA), Halima Shehu, has been arrested and detained by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The arrest is part of an ongoing investigation into the alleged laundering of N37,170,855,753.44 in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, during the tenure of former Minister Sadiya Umar-Farouk.

Sources revealed that EFCC operatives executed the arrest on Tuesday morning, storming NSIPA’s office at the Federal Secretariat in the Federal Capital Territory before transporting Shehu to the EFCC headquarters in Abuja for further interrogation. As of the latest update, she remains in custody while facing questioning related to her role as the former National Coordinator of the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme under the Ministry.

Anonymous senior officers from the EFCC disclosed that Shehu is implicated in the alleged N37.1bn fraud, and her detention is part of the ongoing probe into financial irregularities during Umar-Farouk’s tenure. The former minister is expected to face EFCC investigators on Wednesday over her alleged involvement in the money laundering case.

“Halima Shehu is currently in our (EFCC) custody in connection with the ongoing N37.1bn fraud that took place under the former Humanitarian Minister, Sadiya Umar-Farouk. Halima was the National Coordinator in charge of the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme under the Ministry during Buhari’s tenure, and she’s been queried over some of the money that left the ministry’s coffers through her,” said an EFCC source.

It was reported that Shehu had been suspended from her position by President Bola Tinubu on the same day as her arrest.

It was earlier reported that the EFCC had summoned former Minister Umar-Farouk to appear before investigators on Wednesday for questioning regarding the N37.1bn fraud allegations. The investigation revolves around funds reportedly laundered through a contractor, James Okwete, during Umar-Farouk’s tenure as the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development.

In a document obtained, the EFCC’s request for the former minister’s appearance, stating, “The commission is investigating a case of money laundering involving the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development during your time as Minister. In view of the above, you are requested to kindly report for an interview with the undersigned. Scheduled as follows: Wednesday 3rd, January 2024, 10:00 am.”

The request is made pursuant to section 38 (I) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act 2004 and section 21 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011. The investigation marks a significant step in addressing allegations of financial impropriety within the Ministry, and both Shehu and Umar-Farouk are expected to provide explanations and insights during the ongoing probe.

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