The scandal in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation has taken another dimension as allegations point towards the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila.
A leaked memo obtained by Economic Confidential suggests that Gbajabiamila approved the suspended Minister, Betta Edu, to withdraw 3 billion naira from the COVID-19 Palliative Fund to verify the National Social Register.
The memo, dated 18th of September, 2023, bore reference number SH/COS/145/A/220 and was reportedly a response to Minister Betta Edu’s request for approval.
The subject of the memo reads: “Conveyance of Approval; Re: Appeal to Use 3,000,000,000.00 (Three Billion Naira) from the COVID-19 Palliative Fund for the Verification of the National Social Register.”
While the leaked document indicates that Gbajabiamila instructed the Minister to proceed with the transaction, it is not clear whether there was a written approval from President Bola Tinubu.
Minister Betta Edu has been under scrutiny recently for seeking to transfer 585 million naira, originally intended for distribution to vulnerable Nigerians, into a private account.
The move led to her suspension by President Tinubu and an investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The Accountant General of the Federation, Dr. Oluwatoyin Madein, has also been brought into the spotlight.
Despite disowning the Minister’s alleged ‘illegal’ request in a press statement, the EFCC reportedly questioned Madein on Monday night concerning the 585 million naira scandal and related matters.
A source within the EFCC, speaking anonymously, stated that the Commission suspects certain funds may have been transferred to private accounts.
The investigation aims to uncover potential irregularities in past transactions within the Ministry.