President Bola Tinubu has suspended the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu, from office with immediate effect.
Presidential spokesman, Ajuri Ngelale, announced the minister’s suspension in a statement on Monday afternoon.
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 instructed the Accountant General of the Federation, Oluwatoyin Madein, to transfer the sum to the account of one Oniyelu Bridget as grants for vulnerable groups in four states.
However, Madein confirmed that although her office received a request from the humanitarian ministry to make certain payments, her office did not act on it.
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.
Calls by rights activists and many Nigerians for Edu’s suspension have been intense in the last few days. On Sunday, the Federal Government acknowledged the outrage and said the President had ordered a thorough probe of Edu’s ministry.
On Monday, the President caved in to pressure and suspended Edu as well as directed the EFCC Chairman, Ola Olukoyede “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 President also directed the suspended minister to hand over to the Permanent Secretary of the ministry and “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.”