Dr Betta Edu, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation asked the Accountant General of the Federation, Mrs Oluwatoyin Sakirat Madein to send public funds to a private account, according to a letter obtained.

The private account belongs to Oniyelu Bridget Mojisola, identified as a project manager by the minister.

A letter from the minister with reference number: FMHAPA/HQ/OHM/S.208 to the Accountant General of the Federation, Mrs Madein dated December 20, 2023, asked that over N585 million should be sent to a private account.

The letter signed by the minister, Dr Edu, is titled ‘Mandate for Payment of Grant for Vulnerable Groups in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Lagos and Ogun States Respectively’.

It reads, “I hereby approve the payment of the cumulative sum of five hundred and eighty-five million, one hundred and eighty-nine thousand, five hundred naira (N585,189,500.00). These are payments for programmes and activities of the Renewed Hope Grant for Vulnerable Groups.”

The details show that N219,429,750.00 was for 2023 Grant for Vulnerable Groups in Akwa Ibom State; N73,828,750.00 was for 2023 Grant for Vulnerable Groups in Cross River State; N219,462,250.00 was for 2023 Grant for Vulnerable Groups in Lagos State while N72,468,750.00 was for 2023 Grant for Vulnerable Groups in Ogun State.

The letter said the payment of N585,189,500.00 –the total sum – should be made to a UBA account: 2003682151 belonging to Oniyelu Bridget Mojisola.

“This payment should be made from the National Social Investment Officer account with account number: 0020208461037 to the Project Accountant’s details listed above,” it added.

According to Sources, the system that allows the Accountant General of the Federation to send public funds into private accounts based on requests by ministers encourages corruption.

“If a minister can ask the Accountant General of the Federation to move public funds into a private account and the AGF will do it, then it is no wonder the last AGF stole plenty of money,” a source said.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting former Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris and Geoffrey Akindele alongside Mohammed Usman and Gezawa Commodity Market & Exchange Limited on charges of fraudulent diversion of public funds to the tune of N109.5 million.

Idris and Akindele were accused of committing criminal breach of trust while being entrusted with certain property, to wit N84,390,000,000 between February and November 2021 by “dishonestly receiving the said amount from the Federal Government through Godfrey Olusegun Akindele, trading under the name and style of Olusegun Akindele & Co”.

As a public servant, Idris was also accused of collecting an equivalent of N15.1 million from Akindele between February and December 2021 to accelerate the payment of 13 per cent derivation to nine oil-rich states in the country through the Office of the AGF.

It was earlier reported that documents exclusively obtained showed how the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) moved N226,188,500 million to Kogi, Bayelsa and Imo states through the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation ahead of the November 11, 2023 governorship elections.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) held governorship elections in Imo, Kogi and Bayelsa states on November 11, 2023.

In the election characterised by irregularities including vote-buying thuggery and pre-recorded results, APC candidates were declared victorious in Imo and Kogi states while the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate and incumbent Governor of Bayelsa State secured re-election.

However, documents obtained on Thursday show that the funds were moved to the states on November 4 and 6 respectively in the name of providing palliatives for indigent and underprivileged people.

But government sources said that the funds were mobilised to the states days before the elections to buy votes under the cover providing funds for vulnerable people in the states.

“It was all a ruse to buy votes for APC and their candidates in the elections using the programme for vulnerable people as cover; that was why the events were done a few days before the governorship elections in the three states,” one of the sources said.

A breakdown of the disbursement of the funds shows that N72,374,500 was moved to Kogi State on November 6, 2023, through the Director of Finance Account, National Social Investment Agency, just five days before the governorship election.

Also on November 6, the ministry approved and moved N72,423,250 million to Bayelsa State under the ministry’s 2023 grant for vulnerable groups programmes.

On November 3, 2023, a total of N81,390,750 million was moved to Imo State under the same guise of providing grants to vulnerable groups, just seven days before the governorship election.

According to the documents, the Minster of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Edu personally approved the moving of the funds to the three states.

On October 31, 2023, the Nigerian House of Representatives summoned Edu to brief the chamber on the status of the federal government’s conditional cash transfer programme to 15 million households.

In a motion of urgent public importance, the House expressed concern over the handling of the programme, citing a lack of transparency and alleged fraudulent practices.

The lawmakers asked the minister to provide details on the collation of data and the distribution of funds.

President Bola Tinubu launched the conditional cash transfer programme in October as part of his efforts to address poverty and vulnerability in the country. The programme aims to provide monthly cash transfers of N25,000 to each of the 15 million beneficiary households for three months.

The invitation of the minister by the House comes amid reports of irregularities in the program’s implementation, including allegations that some beneficiaries had been excluded while others had been paid multiple times.

The lawmakers asked the minister to provide details on the collation of data and the distribution of funds.

However, efforts to reach the minister failed as she did not answer calls. She also did not reply to text messages sent to her mobile line.

SaharaReporters

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