N585m payment into private account followed due process, says Betta Edu

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The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Betta Edu, on Friday, said the memo concerning  N585,198,500.00 which has been making the rounds on social media was meant for the payment of grants to vulnerable groups in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ogun, and Lagos states.

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She denied that the sum was diverted into a private account, stressing that it went through normal approval process and was for the disbursement of grants to vulnerable groups in the four states.

An approval memo from the office of the Accountant General of the Federation, dated December 20, 2023, titled: ‘Mandate for payment grants to vulnerable groups in Akwa Ibom, Cross Rivers, Lagos and Ogun States’ respectively reads:

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“I hereby approve the payment for a cumulative sum of five hundred and eighty five million, one hundred and eighty nine thousand and five hundred naira (N585,180,500.00). These are payments for programmes and activities of the Renewed Hope grants for vulnerable groups.

“Details provided below: 2023 grant for vulnerable groups in Akwa Ibom State. N219, 429, 750.00; 2023 grant for vulnerable groups in Cross Rivers, N783, 828, 750.00; 2023 grant for vulnerable groups in Lagos State, N219,462,250.00 and grant for vulnerable groups in Ogun State, N72,468,750.00 with total at N585,189,500.00.

“The payment should be made from the National Social Investment office account with account number 0020208461037 to the project’s accountant’ details listed above as Onyelu Bridget Mojisola, UBA account 2003682151.”

Reacting to the development on Friday, Special Adviser to the Humanitarian Affairs Minister, Rasheed Olanrewaju Zubair, said the leaked memo was the machinations of those he described as disgruntled elements to blackmail the minister.

A statement titled: ‘Fund for Vulnerable Groups in Four States Was Approved and went through Due Process, Oniyelu Bridget is the Project Accountant for GVG’, reads: “The Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation notes with dismay, a memo from the Ministry to the Accountant-General of the Federation approving for payment, of the sum of N585,189,500.00 Renewed Hope Grant for Vulnerable Groups for four states, which is currently being circulated in the social media.

“It is glaring that the same sponsored disgruntled elements in the past few days have been trying to smear the Minister, Dr. Betta Edu, and stain her integrity because she alerted the federal government to the ongoing N44.8 billion fraud in NSIPA.

“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. We must, however, note that GVG was first launched in the Kogi State where recipients testified.

“Akwa Ibom and Cross River were launched in December 2023, Kogi already happened in November, and others will be launched in the coming weeks.

“The general public is invited to note that the Renewed Hope Grant for Vulnerable Groups is one of the social intervention schemes of the federal government, which is being implemented by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation. Oniyelu Bridget is the Project Accountant for GVG from the Department of Finance and it is legal in civil service for a staff, the Project accountant to be paid and use same funds legally and retire same with all receipts and evidence after project or programme is completed.

“The evil motive of the mischief-makers behind the circulation of the memo is well-known and should be ignored. Of note is the fact that since assumption of duty about five months ago, the minister has religiously visited different parts of the country like Borno, Zamfara, Niger, Kogi, Plateau, Nasarawa, FCT, Lagos Cross River, etc and this is done to ensure she delivers on her mandate and she has remained focused, unbiased and committed to duty,” he stated.

 

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