By Uche Amunike
President Bola Tinubu has suspended the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu, following the controversies trailing the N585.18 billion transaction authorized by her in her ministry, into the private account of a civil servant, who is the accountant in charge of grants.
According to a statement released by presidential spokesperson, Ajuri Ngelale, Monday, her suspension started with immediate effect, stating that the president remained committed to upholding the highest standards of integrity, transparency and accountability while managing the commonwealth of Nigerians.
According to the statement, Betta Edu’s ministry would also face thorough investigation by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, moving forward. It partly read: ‘The President further directs the Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to conduct a thorough investigation into all aspects of the financial transactions involving the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, as well as one or more agencies thereunder.’
Betta Edu has presently been directed to hand over to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, while a panel headed by the Coordinating Minister of Finance has been asked to carry out a thorough diagnostic of the financial architecture and framework of the social investment programmes, among other functions.
This, he stated, is meant to conclusively sanitize the relevant institutions and programs in a determined effort to eliminate all institutional frailties for the exclusive benefit of disadvantaged households and win back lost public confidence in the initiative.
Hear him: ‘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.’
Betta Edu’s suspension came up after Nigerians widely condemned the leaked memo which revealed that she directed the Accountant-General of the Federation, Oluwatoyin Madein to transfer N585.18bn to a private account owned by a certain Oniyelu Bridget.
The EFCC has also been mandated to investigate not only Betta Edu’s Ministry, but also one or more agencies under her.
Shortly after her suspension, the embattled Minister was denied access at the Presidential Villa, Abuja when she went to see the president, with the intent to discuss with him in person.
Even though she successfully cleared all security checks up to the office of the president, she was stopped from seeing him in his office. As though that was not enough, reports say, the security detail of the president withdrew her access tag from her, stating that she was driven out of the office of the president in a Toyota Hilux truck belonging to State House security.
According to a news report by Vanguard Newspaper, it was not immediately clear if Edu was eventually allowed to use her official vehicle out of the villa.
The EFCC would anytime from now, invite her for investigation of the N585.18bn scam.