Nigeria’s Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation minister, Betta Edu, was on Monday suspended by the West African nation’s president after she allegedly approved the transfer of over $640,000 in public funds into a personal bank account.
According to BBC, Dr. Edu, who is Nigeria’s youngest minister in President Bola Tinubu’s government, drew the ire of the public after the alleged scandal came to light. President Tinubu’s office in a statement said he has since mandated the relevant authorities to investigate Dr. Edu’s ministry.
Dr. Edu, 37, has since maintained her innocence. Her ministry also claimed that though she gave the green light for the money to be transferred into a personal account, the funds were meant for the “implementation of grants to vulnerable groups.” That initiative falls under the government’s National Social Investments Programmes (NSIP).
The funds in question were to be transferred into the personal bank account of a certain Bridget Oniyelu – the accountant for the government’s Grants for Vulnerable Groups initiative, per BBC. Dr. Edu, in the leaked document, is said to have ordered a senior treasury official to execute the transfer, local media reported.
The public outrage also stemmed from the funds not being transferred into a government account but a personal one. President Tinubu in Monday’s statement tasked 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.”
Tinubu also entreated Dr. Edu, who is a close ally, to cooperate with investigations and asked for a reform of government agencies that oversee National Social Investments Programmes (NSIP) as they had to “win back lost public confidence.”
Ministers being suspended hardly happens in Nigeria, and Dr. Edu is the first to suffer such fate after President Tinubu was sworn in last year, BBC reported. Only two ministers were fired by former president Muhammadu Buhari in his eight-year tenure.