EFCC quizzes humanitarian ministry officials, ICPC recovers N50bn

Spread the love


The investigation into the sleaze in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation deepened on Wednesday with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission investigators quizzing several top civil servants linked to the scandals.

This was as The PUNCH learnt that the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission recovered N50bn from the humanitarian affairs ministry.

The money, which was about to be embezzled was recovered by the ICPC between July and August 2023 and paid into the Central Bank of Nigeria.


It was learnt that the fund which was meant for vulnerable citizens during the tenure of former Minister Sadiya Umar-Farouq was blocked during attempts to transfer it into private bank accounts and recovered by the ICPC under its former Chairman, Bolaji Owasanoye.

An impeccable government source told our correspondent that the N50bn was subsequently handed over to the President Bola Tinubu-led Federal Government.

Confirming the development, the source stated, “The funds were recovered when former President Muhammadu Buhari and Umar-Farouq were leaving office and President Tinubu had yet to appoint a new humanitarian affairs minister.

“President Tinubu, upon the appointment of the now suspended Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Betta Edu, ordered the Accountant-General of the Federation to refund the money to the ministry as part of the Infrastructure Support Fund for the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory to cushion the effect of the fuel subsidy removal.

Shedding more light on the interception and recovery of the fund, another source explained, “During the naira scarcity between late 2022 and 2023, the ICPC under Prof Owasanoye blocked and recovered the sum of N50bn from the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs.

“The first sum that was blocked and recovered was N32bn, but when the commission probed further, another N18bn was blocked and recovered from the ministry. The ICPC discovered that the money was meant for the vulnerable and the poor people in the country which the ministry under the former minister, Umar-Farouq, could not distribute due to the scarcity of currency during the naira redesign period.

“The money was paid into the coffers of the government between July and August 2023. Some officials in the ministry attempted to disburse the funds into private accounts during the time the former minister was no longer active in office and there was no new minister last year. The ICPC immediately blocked the money after discovering the suspicious and fraudulent manner in which it was to be distributed, and it was recovered.

“After President Tinubu announced the Infrastructure Support Fund for the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory to cushion the effect of the fuel subsidy removal, the Federal Government paid the money into the coffers of the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry under Betta Edu, being the ministry in charge poverty alleviation projects.”

Civil servants quizzed

In continuation of their probe, EFCC detectives Wednesday questioned many senior civil servants in the humanitarian affairs ministry.

Though the details of the officials were sketchy, our correspondent was reliably informed that they gave the investigators useful information that could them unravel the financial malfeasance in the ministry.

The investigators also held sessions with the suspended Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu, ex-minister Sadiya Umar-Farouq, and Halima Shehu, the suspended National Coordinator and CEO of the National Social Investment Programme, an agency under the humanitarian ministry.

While Edu is being investigated for authorising the transfer of N585m into the private account of an accountant in the ministry, Bridget Oniyelu, Umar-Farouq, who served as a minister under former President Muhammadu Buhari, was under the searchlight over alleged N37bn money laundering.

Shehu on the other hand was being questioned for allegedly moving N44bn NSIP funds into some private and corporate accounts without presidential approval.

An EFCC source stated, “The women came today (Wednesday) and they’re cooperating with the commission,”

“Also directors-general and other senior officials under the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs have been and are still being interrogated by the EFCC. Senior officials of some banks are still answering questions too over the alleged money laundering.’’

Edu, who was suspended by President Bola Tinubu on Monday, had claimed that the N585m payment was meant for vulnerable groups in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ogun, and Lagos states.

Her Media Assistant, Rasheed Olarewaju, had claimed it was legal within the civil service for such payments to be made into private accounts of staff members, especially project accountants.

The Accountant-General of the Federation, Dr Oluwatoyin Madein, had denied that her office honoured the request to pay N585m into the private account as directed by the minister.

She said the AGF does not make payments on behalf of MDAs as they are self-accounting entities.