Investigators sought for information on how the huge sum was allegedly laundered by top officials who served under her, as the ex-minister was questioned from 11am to 11pm.
Data from the Budget Office indicate that the ministry, erstwhile known as Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, had a N2.38tn budget from 2020 to 2024.
The EFCC has also summoned Edu to appear before its detectives on Tuesday (today). This is in compliance with the presidential directive.
According to Ngelale, it was revealed in the statement that the President 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 the agencies under it.
Furthermore, the President tasked a panel headed by the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Wale Edun, to conduct a comprehensive diagnostic of the financial architecture and framework of the social investment programmes.
This was aimed at 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.
The statement read, “In line with his avowed commitment to upholding the highest standards of integrity, transparency, and accountability in the management of the commonwealth of Nigerians, President Bola Tinubu suspends the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Betta Edu, from office with immediate effect.
“The suspended minister is hereby directed to hand over to the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, and she is further directed by the President to fully cooperate with the investigating authorities as they conduct their investigation.
“Furthermore, the President has tasked a panel 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. These directives of the President take immediate effect.’’
The scandal involving Edu burst open after a leaked memo revealed that the suspended minister directed the Accountant-General of the Federation, Oluwatoyin Madein, to transfer N585m to a private account owned by one Oniyelu Bridget, who the ministry claimed currently serves as the Project Accountant, Grants for Vulnerable Groups.
The minister had claimed that the N585m payment was meant for vulnerable groups in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ogun, and Lagos states, describing the allegations against her as baseless.
The Media Assistant to the minister, Rasheed Olarewaju, said in a statement that it was legal within the civil service for such payments to be made into private accounts of staff members, especially project accountants.
Unimpressed by her defence, several groups and individuals including the Peoples Democratic Party, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, Femi Falana, SAN; the Yoruba Youth Assembly, and other civil society groups had demanded Edu’s suspension and an unfettered probe of the leaked memo.
In deference to public pressure, the President suspended Edu and directed her to hand over to the permanent secretary in the ministry.
Consequently, the anti-graft agency on Monday, directed the suspended minister to report at its Jabi, Abuja headquarters on Tuesday (today) for questioning.
Confirming the development in a telephone interview with our correspondent, a senior EFCC official said, “Betta Edu has been mandated to report to the commission tomorrow (today).”