Nigeria’s president has suspended the minister of humanitarian affairs with immediate effect and asked the corruption watchdog to investigate financial transactions involving her ministry, the president’s spokesperson said on Monday. Betta Edu, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, is the first minister to be suspended, less than six months after her appointment by President Bola Tinubu, who won last year’s disputed elections vowing to revive growth in Africa’s biggest economy and fight corruption. Spokesperson Ajuri Ngelale said the president had directed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to conduct a thorough investigation into all aspects of the financial transactions involving Edu’s ministry. Tinubu asked a panel led by Finance Minister Wale Edun to review the framework of social protection programmes meant for poor households in a bid to win back public trust.
Her suspension was announced via a press statement , issued on Monday by Chief Ajuri Ngelale, Special Adviser to the President on media and publicity. The statement reads: “In line with his avowed commitment to uphold the highest standards of integrity, transparency, and accountability in the management of the commonwealth of Nigerians, President Bola Tinubu suspends the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Betta Edu, from office with immediate effect. “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.” 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. These directives of the President take immediate effect.”
Tinubu ordered a thorough probe of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation led by Betta Edu. The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, made this known in a statement on Sunday. Controversy had enveloped Edu’s alleged involvement in the approval of N585,198,500.00 to be disbursed into a personal account. In a letter allegedly signed by the humanitarian minister, she allegedly instructed the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Oluwatoyin Madein, to transfer the sum to the account of one Oniyelu Bridget as grant for vulnerable groups in four states. However, Madein explained that although her office received a request from the humanitarian ministry to make certain payments, her office did not act on it. Edu, 37, the youngest minister in the President’s cabinet, subsequently said there were plans to tarnish her image, adding that she won’t embezzle government funds. Incidentally, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is presently probing Edu’s predecessor, Sadiya Farouq, over alleged laundering of N37.1 billion during her tenure as a minister under the administration of ex-President Muhammadu Buhari. In a statement on Sunday, the information minister acknowledged the uproar over the development in the humanitarian ministry under Edu, saying that the “government is determined to unravel the truth”.