Home » Nigerian Minister Faces Corruption Probe Over $640,000 Grant Scandal

Nigerian Minister Faces Corruption Probe Over $640,000 Grant Scandal

Betta Edu is accused of instructing the payment of $640,000 worth of grants meant for vulnerable groups to an individual.

by Motoni Olodun

Nigeria’s president has ordered an immediate suspension and investigation of the minister of humanitarian affairs over allegations of diverting public funds into a private account.

Betta Edu, the minister of humanitarian affairs and poverty alleviation, is accused of instructing the payment of 585 million naira ($640,000; £500,000) worth of grants meant for vulnerable groups to an individual named Oniyelu Bridget.

The grants were designated for poor households in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ogun, and Lagos states, as part of the government’s social protection programs.

Edu has denied any wrongdoing, saying the reports about her mismanaging public funds are targeted at tarnishing her image.

However, the office of Nigeria’s Accountant General of the Federation said in a statement that such funds are meant to be sent directly from government accounts to the beneficiaries.

The presidential spokesperson, Ajuri Ngelale, said in a statement on Monday that President Bola Tinubu has directed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to conduct a thorough investigation into all aspects of the financial transactions involving Edu’s ministry.

He said the president has also asked a panel led by Finance Minister Wale Edun to review the framework of social protection programs to ensure transparency and accountability.

Ngelale said the suspension follows the president’s commitment to uphold the highest standards of integrity in how Nigeria’s resources are managed.

Tinubu, who won last year’s disputed elections vowing to revive growth in Africa’s biggest economy and fight corruption, is the first Nigerian leader to suspend a minister over corruption allegations.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and top oil producer has struggled for decades with endemic corruption among senior public servants and the political elite, whom many Nigerians blame for widespread poverty in the country.

According to the latest Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, Nigeria ranked 150 out of 180 countries in 2022, showing no improvement from the previous year.

The EFCC, Nigeria’s main anti-corruption agency, has been criticized for being selective and politicized in its investigations and prosecutions, often targeting opposition figures and critics of the government.

Edu’s predecessor, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, also reported to the EFCC on Monday to offer clarifications on some issues related to the disbursement of public funds during her time as minister.

She said on social media that she was at the commission’s office to cooperate with the investigation and clear her name.

Despite the challenges, some Nigerians have expressed optimism that the suspension and probe of Edu could signal a new dawn in the fight against corruption and a boost for the government’s efforts to reduce poverty.

Nigeria has one of the highest poverty rates in the world, with about 40% of its 200 million population living below the national poverty line, according to the World Bank.

The bank said in a report last year that sluggish growth, low human capital, labor market weaknesses, and exposure to shocks are holding Nigeria’s poverty reduction back.

It recommended deep, long-term reforms to foster and sustain pro-poor growth and raise Nigerians out of poverty.

Source: Reuters


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