Fresh trouble for Betta Edu and others as EFCC uncovers fresh $445,000, N3bn fraud in humanitarian ministry

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it has so far recovered N32.7 billion and $445,000 from the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development amid its ongoing investigation into alleged corruption in the ministry.

A statement titled ‘Setting the Records Straight on Investigations of Humanitarian Ministry,’ signed by EFCC Head of Media & Publicity, Mr Dele Oyewale, on Sunday, said it was important to provide the information amid recent commentaries, opinions and assumptions regarding its probe of the ministry.

Last Tuesday, the suspended humanitarian affairs minister, Dr Betta Edu, who is being probed, said she was not being investigated by the EFCC for the alleged misappropriation of N30 billion.

Her predecessor, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, and the Coordinator of the National Social Insurance Programmes Agency, Halima Shehu, are also being investigated.

A bulletin titled, “EFCC Alert,” which was made available on Monday to media organisations including SaharaReporters had alleged the recovery of N30 billion from the public funds said to be looted under the watch of Edu.

The document read, “Update on Betta Edu investigation. We have laws and regulations guiding our investigations. Nigerians will also know that they are already on suspension, and this is based on the investigations we have done, and President Bola Tinubu has proved to Nigerians that he is ready to fight corruption.

“Moreover, concerning this particular case, we have recovered over N30 billion, which is already in the coffers of the Federal Government.”

However, a statement signed by her Special Adviser on Media, Rasheed Olarenwaju and sent to SaharaReporters on Tuesday said the EFCC had issued a statement clarifying the matter to dispel misconceptions and misinformation circulating on social media platforms.

According to the statement, facts have emerged proving that she’s not associated with any scrutiny related to funds transferred to 50 bank accounts.

Olarewaju said the distinction between Edu’s case and another individual, Halima Shehu, who is being investigated for misappropriating N44.8 billion without any official approvals, had been made clear.

He added that Mr. Adamu, an investigator with the EFCC, made the points clear and emphasised the need to separate fact from fiction and to discern the truth amidst what appears to be a concerted effort to discredit Edu through a media campaign of calumny.

However, the EFCC in its statement said, “The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has noticed the rising tide of commentaries, opinions, assumptions and insinuations concerning its progressive investigations into the alleged financial misappropriation in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

“At the outset of investigations, past and suspended officials of the Humanitarian Ministry were invited by the Commission and investigations into the alleged fraud involving them have yielded the recovery of N32.7billion and $445,000 so far.

“Discreet investigations by the EFCC have opened other fraudulent dealings involving Covid-19 funds, the World Bank loan, Abacha recovered loot released to the Ministry by the Federal Government to execute its poverty alleviation mandate.  Investigations have also linked several interdicted and suspended officials of the Ministry to the alleged financial malfeasance.

“It is instructive to stress that the Commission’s investigations are not about individuals. The EFCC is investigating a system and intricate web of fraudulent practices.

“Banks involved in the alleged fraud are being investigated. Managing Directors of the indicted banks have made useful statements to investigators digging into the infractions. Those found wanting will be prosecuted accordingly. 

“Additionally, the EFCC has not cleared anyone allegedly involved in the fraud. Investigations are ongoing and advancing steadily. The public is enjoined to ignore any claim to the contrary. 

“On the issue of the works of the Commission against Naira abuse, dollarization of the economy and the enforcement of all extant laws relating to them, the EFCC appreciates the avalanche of public awakening, support and involvement demonstrated so far. 

“Increasingly, members of the public are drawing the attention of the Commission to video recording of abuse of the Naira by Nigerians from all walks of life.  These gestures amply demonstrate rising consciousness of the public to the sanctity of our national currency and the need for collaborative engagement to sustain the tempo.”

Culled from Saharareporters