Betta Edu Orders AGF To Transfer N585m To Private Account

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Betta Edu, minister for Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation in the cabinet of President Bola Tinubu has directed Oluwatoyin Madein, the accountant-general of the federation to transfer N585 million to the bank account of a private individual.

The directive is in a letter dated December 20, 2023, and referenced FMHAPA/HQ/OHM/S.208 signed by the humanitarian affairs and poverty alleviation minister, entitled: “Mandate for Payment of Grant for Vulnerable Groups in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Lagos, and Ogun States respectively”.

In the letter, Edu instructed the accountant-general to transfer N585,189,500 to the UBA account of one Oniyelu Bridget Mojisola.

According to the document, N219,429,750 was earmarked as “2023 Grant for Vulnerable Groups in Akwa Ibom state”, N73,828,750 was budgeted for Cross River state, N219,462,250 for Lagos state, and N72,468,750 for Ogun state.

The minister said the payment should be deducted from the account of the national investment office.

“I hereby approve the payment of the cumulative sum of N585,189,500. These are payments for programs and activities of the Renewed Hope grant for Vulnerable Groups,” the letter reads.

“This payment should be made from the National Social Investment Office account with account number: 0020208461037 to the project accountant’s details listed above.”

The letter has raised questions on ethics and civil service rules on transferring such huge funds to a private bank account especially as the public sector financial regulations of 2009 prohibit the payment of public funds to the account of a private individual.

Section 713 of the law states that: “Personal money shall in no circumstances be paid into a government bank account, nor shall any public money be paid into a private bank account. An officer who pays public money into a private account is deemed to have done so with fraudulent intention.”

The media aide to the minister, Rasheed Zubair, in a statement on Friday, said the N585 million fund for vulnerable groups followed “due process”.

Zubair said Bridget, whose bank account was stated to receive the payment, is the project accountant for the Grants for Vulnerable Groups scheme.

The media adviser said it is “legal in civil service” for a project accountant to receive payments, use funds legally, and retire all receipts as evidence of the project.

He added that the circulation of the document on social media was another attempt to blackmail the minister.

“It is glaring that the same sponsored disgruntled elements in the past few days have been trying to smear the Honourable Minister, Dr Betta Edu, and stain her integrity because she alerted the Federal Government attention to the ongoing N44.8 Billion Fraud in NSIPA,” the statement reads.

“These elements have been trying to link her to a phantom fraud and are behind this latest misadventure.

“However, this latest vile effort of theirs is another infantile blackmail doomed for evisceration. For the avoidance, the said N585,198,500.00 was approved, and it is meant for the implementation of grants to vulnerable groups in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ogun, and Lagos states

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