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HomeNIGERIAEFCC goes cold on Betta Edu six months after

EFCC goes cold on Betta Edu six months after

·       Court orders another minister to account for N729bn

By Angela MUREY

Several months after her suspension as Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, nothing seems to have happened with the case involving Dr. Betta Edu over allegations of corruption, being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

As the anti-graft agency delays to absolve or indict the ex-minister, or make public its findings, there are suspicions that she may be let off the hook, despite the weight of allegations levelled against her, which led to her ouster in January.

While Edu has maintained her innocence, EFCC, in a statement by its Head of Media and Publicity, Dele Oyewale, had said it has not absolved any of the suspects facing investigations over allegations of corruption perpetrated at the ministry.

It further clarified that it has extended its ongoing discreet investigations to other fraudulent dealings involving the humanitarian ministry and its past and former officials, saying “Investigations are ongoing and advancing steadily. The public is enjoined to ignore any claim to the contrary.”

However, investigation by the anti-graft agency has lingered for six straight months, despite overwhelming public interest in the matter.

Recall that President Bola Tinubu suspended Edu in January after a leaked memo showed that the former minister indulged in unwholesome financial dealings while serving at the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry.

Edu’s case aroused public interest and fierce criticism when the widely circulated memo showed the former minister ordered the transfer of N585.2 million into a private bank account.

Tinubu also suspended the social welfare programme and the National Coordinator of the National Social Investment Programme Agency, NSIPA, Halima Shehu, over alleged N37.1 billion fraud in the ministry.

Meanwhile, several months ago the Federal High Court Sitting in Lagos ordered another former Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disasters Management and Social Development, Ms Sadia Umar-Farouk, to account for payments of N729 billion to 24.3 million poor Nigerians in six months.

The judgment delivered by Justice Deinde Isaac Dipeolu, follows a Freedom of Information suit number: FHC/L/CS/853/2021, brought by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP.

The former minister was also ordered by the court to provide the list and details of the beneficiaries who received the payments, the number of states covered and the payments per state.

“The former minister is compelled by the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act to give information to any person including SERAP. I therefore grant an order of mandamus directing and compelling the minister to provide the spending details of N729 billion to 24.3 million poor Nigerians in 2021.”

“Provide SERAP with details of how the beneficiaries have been selected and the mechanisms for the payments to the beneficiaries.”

“The minister did not give any reason for the refusal to disclose the details sought by SERAP. SERAP has reeled out the relevant sections of the Freedom of Information Act 2011 that the minister contravened and has in line with sections 20 and 25(1) of the Act prayed this Court for an order of mandamus to direct and compel the minister to provide the information sought,” the judge said.

Both Edu and her predecessor, Farouq, are among key serving and former officials that EFCC has interrogated over alleged misappropriation of multi-billion naira social welfare funds meant for vulnerable and poor Nigerians.

Efforts to get the EFCC to respond to why it was not forthcoming on the investigation yielded no response.

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