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06.01.2024 Featured FLASHBACK: Last Year, Betta Edu Said CBN — Not Personal Account — Would Pay Poor Nigerians

Published 6th Jan, 2024

By Sodeeq Atanda

An internal memo dated December 20, 2023, in the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development was leaked on social media on Friday evening, showing Minister Betta Edu approved the payment of some money into a civil servant’s bank account.

The leak has elicited a heated debate on the propriety of the approval empowering Oniyelu Bridget Mojisola with account number 2003682151 to receive N585,189,500 from the single treasury account (TSA) belonging to the National Social Investment Office.

“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 Vulnerable Groups,” the memo, titled “Mandate for Payment of Grant for Vulnerable Groups in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Lagos and Ogun States Respectively”, read in part.

READ ALSO: INVESTIGATION: How Ben Ayade Awarded Over N1bn Contracts to Cronies, Dubious Companies

The memo

Mojisola is an accountant in the employ of the federal government. According to reports, she is a project accountant for grants for vulnerable groups (GVG), a scheme through which the government pays money to vulnerable people.

People around the minister, particularly her image-makers, have confirmed the authenticity of the document but claim that the approval followed due process.

Before this controversy, Edu had assured Nigerians and the prospective beneficiaries of the government’s conditional cash transfer that her ministry would send money to their bank accounts directly from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to engender transparency.

READ ALSO: Jamec West Africa, ‘an Ally of Ex-Minister Sadiya Umar-Farouq’, Took Billions From FG Yet Is Listed as ‘Inactive’ on CAC

FIJ revisits that moment the minister was interviewed by journalists in the presence of other stakeholders.

‘CBN WILL PAY BENEFICIARIES

The launch of the current phase of the cash intervention to poor Nigerians was done on October 17, 2023. After the launch, Edu granted an interview where she explained how eligible people would be paid, claiming it was a transparent system.

Betta Edu’s interview in October 17, 2023 Video Credit: TVC.

The ongoing scheme is named “Renewed Hope Conditional Cash Transfer Scale-Up”.

“We are starting, and those we are starting with are those that have been verified across all states in Nigeria. Verification process is still ongoing. For the first set that have been verified, they will receive their money immediately,” Edu stated.

Most importantly, Edu emphasised that the bank accounts and virtual wallets of the selected beneficiaries would be credited directly by the CBN.

“What we can assure Nigerians is the fact that this is a very transparent system that is traceable from the CBN account directly to the account of the beneficiaries.”

During the launch, Minister Wale Edun of the ministry of finance taunted how transparent the process was, saying there was an “audit trail” in place to check the payment mechanism.

“In this particular case, the audit trail is there. The mechanism that is going to be used is one that is biometric. It is proven,” said the finance minister. He stated further that “You would be able to name every single person that has received those funds”.

READ ALSO: EFCC Documents Reveal N37bn Humanitarian Ministry Fraud Under Buhari

With the ongoing revelation, Nigerians wait to see how the finance minister will audit the funds paid to a civil servant’s private account number domiciled with the United Bank for Africa (UBA) and “name every single person that has received those funds”.

Meanwhile, FIJ had reported that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was probing the activities of Sadiya Umar-Farouq, Edu’s predecessor in the humanitarian affairs ministry.

The former minister was accused of diverting over N37 billion through James Okwete, a contractor who owns many companies, including Jamec West Africa Limited.

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Published 6th Jan, 2024

By Sodeeq Atanda

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