President Bola Tinubu has ordered a thorough investigation into the alleged N585 million scandal within the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation. He expressed determination to take decisive action against any individuals found responsible for breaches or infractions during the inquiry. The directive follows public outrage over the reported violation of financial regulations by the ministry.
The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, issued a statement on behalf of the President, addressing concerns raised by various groups and individuals, including the Peoples Democratic Party, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, Femi Falana, SAN, and civil society organizations.
These entities demanded an unbiased investigation into a leaked memo from the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu, instructing the Accountant-General of the Federation, Dr Oluwatoyin Madein, to transfer N585 million to the private bank account of a project accountant in her ministry, Bridget Oniyelu.
While Edu defended the payment, claiming it was meant for vulnerable groups in specific states, including Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ogun, and Lagos, the Accountant-General denied honoring the request. The President, through the Minister of Information, emphasized the government’s commitment to transparency, accountability, and effective utilization of public funds to address the needs of Nigerians.
The statement urged patience as the investigation unfolds, cautioning against the circulation of unverified information. Notably, human rights lawyer Femi Falana criticized Edu’s response, highlighting the illegality of the payment and calling for her accountability. The Peoples Democratic Party called for Edu’s immediate sacking and prosecution for alleged money laundering, while Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project demanded a thorough probe.
Various voices, including the Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room, called for a comprehensive audit of political appointees and civil servants to combat corruption effectively. The Yoruba Youth Assembly also advocated for Edu’s dismissal, emphasizing the gravity of depositing government money into personal accounts. Former Osun State House of Assembly member Olatunbosun Oyintiloye urged President Tinubu to closely monitor funds allocated to poverty alleviation programs.
Additionally, revelations surfaced about Edu allegedly approving funds for flight tickets and airport taxis for her team’s travel from Abuja to Kogi State, despite the absence of an airport in the state. The leaked memo indicated approved amounts for duty tour allowance, local running, and travel expenses. Efforts to obtain responses from Edu and her media aide were unsuccessful at the time of reporting.