Tinubu To Sanction Betta Edu As Anger Grows Over N585m Scandal

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President Bola Ahmed Tinubu

President Bola Tinubu demanded a thorough investigation into the alleged N585 million fraud at the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation on Sunday.

He pledged to “decisively punish” individuals found to be engaged in any violations or infractions discovered throughout the investigations.

The President issued the decision in a statement made by Mohammed Idris, Minister of Information and National Orientation, as outrage increased over the suspected violation of Federal Government finance standards. The news comes as ministries prepare for their first performance evaluation, which is scheduled by the end of January.

Several groups and individuals, including the Peoples Democratic Party, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, Femi Falana, SAN; the Yoruba Youth Assembly, and other civil society groups, demanded an unrestricted investigation into the leaked memo by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu, instructing the Accountant-General of the Federation, Dr Oluwatoyin Madein, to pay N585 million into the

The minister said that the N585 million payment was intended for disadvantaged people in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ogun, and Lagos states, and she called the claims leveled against her false.

The Media Assistant to the Minister, Rasheed Olarenwaju, in a statement, said that it was legal within the civil service for such payments to be made into private accounts of staff members, especially project accountants.

“Oniyelu Bridget is the Project Accountant for the GVG (grant for vulnerable groups) from the Department of Finance, and it is legal in civil service for a staffer, 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 had said.

However, the Accountant-General of the Federation, Dr Oluwatoyin Madein, denied that her office honoured the request to pay N585m into a private account as directed by the minister.

The Director of Press in the OAGF, Mr. Jacob Mokwa, in a statement on Saturday, said the AGF does not make payments on behalf of MDAs.

Madein stated that her office received the minister’s request as contained in a letter referenced FMHAPA/HQ/S.208 and dated December 20, 2023, but did not honour the request.

But addressing the public indignation over the revelation, the information minister said, “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 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.

“The Federal Government, under the leadership of President Bola Tinubu, is transparent and accountable to the people, and committed to ensuring that public funds are allocated and utilised effectively and efficiently to address the needs of Nigerians.”

The statement, titled ‘Minister of Information and National Orientation addresses circulating narratives on payments made by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs,’ assured that the President would sanction those involved in any breaches and infractions unravelled during the investigations.

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