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Suspended Betta Edu wanted over N66bn ‘warehoused’ few days before 2023 financial year end

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Dr Betta Edu, the suspended Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation last December asked the AccountantGeneral of the Federation, Mrs Oluwatoyin Sakirat Madein to warehouse over N66 billion unspent in 2023 for the ministry.

A letter from the Office of the Honourable Minister, Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation to the AccountantGeneral, made the request less than two weeks before the end of the 2023 financial year.

The letter exclusively obtained by SaharaReporters was dated December 20, 2023 and signed by Edu.

It was titled, ‘Warehousing of Unspent Balance Fund from the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation NSIP Account (NSIO) for Year 2023 Financial Year.’

The letter read, “From 2020 to date, the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation has in its budget line the National Social Investment Office which runs the National Social Investment Programme saddled with the responsibilities of ensuring social Investment towards enhancing the livelihood of the people which is in line with the renew hope agenda of the present administration.

“The NSIPA is facing some challenge in disbursing and processing payment to our beneficiaries and considering the year is coming to an end by 31″ December, 2023; we have balances in various accounts as follows,

1) NSIO/ Special Intervention 0020208461637 (CBN): N65,828,891,947.58

2) NSIO 0020208461077 (CBN): N500,000,000.00

“Sequel to the above, we crave the indulgence of the Accountant General of the Federation to kindly warehouse the Funds above to enable us discharge our obligations and pay all our expenditure accordingly, as we already have approvals from the President to implement.”

“Please accept my warmest regards,” Edu added. 
 
The total amount that Edu requested the AccountantGeneral to ‘warehouse’ by the end of the 2023 financial year amounted to N66,328,891,947.58 (N65,828,891,947.58 and N500,000,000.00).

On January 8, 2024, President Bola Tinubu suspended Betta Edu from office with immediate effect.

The President further directed the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) 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 one or more agencies thereunder.

Tinubu further directed Edu to fully cooperate with the investigating authorities as they conduct their investigation.

Edu’s suspension followed reports of alleged misappropriation of funds against her as poverty alleviation minister.

SaharaReporters earlier reported how Edu had asked the Accountant General of the Federation, Mrs Madein to send public funds to a private account.

According to a letter obtained by SaharaReporters, the private account belonged 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 read, “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.

SaharaReporters also reported how N226,188,500 million was moved to Kogi, Bayelsa and Imo states through the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation ahead of the November 11, 2023 governorship elections in the states.

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, the candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) were declared victorious in Imo and Kogi states while the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate and incumbent Governor of Bayelsa State secured re-election in his state.

However, documents obtained by SaharaReporters showed that the funds were moved to the states a few days before the elections in the name of providing palliatives for indigent and underprivileged people.

But government sources told SaharaReporters that the funds were mobilised to the states days before the elections to buy votes under the cover of catering for vulnerable people there.

“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 had said.

A breakdown of the disbursement of the funds showed 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 Betta 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.

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Reps South Wes Caucus Condemn Activities of Acclaimed Yoruba Nation Agitators

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By Gloria Ikibah
The South West Caucus of the House of Representatives has condemned in strong terms the recent activities carried out by acclaimed Yoruba Nation Agitators, which have caused unrest and pose a threat to the peace and stability of our region.
This was contained in a statement signed  by Leaderof Southwest Caucus/Deputy Chief Whip, Rep. PAdewunmi Oriyomi Onanuga, Chairman, Southwest Caucus, Rep. Abiodun James Faleke and Secretary General, Southwest Caucus, Rep. Taofeek Ajilesoro on Monday in Abuja.
The statement reads: “As representatives of the people, we stand firmly against any form of unlawful behavior and violence that undermines the rule of law and the unity of our country, Nigeria. It is essential that all grievances and demands be addressed through peaceful and lawful means, respecting the rights and well-being of all citizens.
“We urge all parties involved to engage in constructive dialogue, prioritize the welfare of our people, and work towards finding peaceful and lasting solutions to any grievances,” said Rt. Hon.Dr Abiodun James Faleke, Chairman of the South West Caucus of the House of Representatives. “Violence and lawlessness have no place in our society, and we call on all individuals to uphold the principles of peace, unity, and respect for the rule of law.
“The South West Caucus remains committed to upholding the values of democracy, justice, and unity in our region and the country at large. Together, we can overcome challenges and build a better future for all”.
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How I Made A Vow 34 Years Ago Never To Watch Tv Again – Pope Francis

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Pope Francis has disclosed that he made a vow 34 years ago to stop watching television.

The revered clergyman said he placed himself on the self-imposed ban after stumbling across a smutty show.

He explained that the vulgar viewing was so bad for his conscience that he had to place a TV ban on himself.

The Supreme Pontiff said he hasn’t watched the box for almost 34 years.

He said: “I was watching television in the lounge with my fellow priests.

“It was July 15, 1990, and some scenes of an adult nature, to put it delicately, were being shown — something that was not good for the heart.

“Nothing risqué, of course, but when I went back to my room, I said to myself, ‘A priest cannot look at such things.’

And so, the following day, during the mass for the feast of the Madonna del Carmelo, I vowed never to watch television again.”

His Holinesss, 87, said that one of the last things he watched properly on TV was the fall of the Berlin Wall – in 1989.

He, however, stated that there have been a couple of exceptions to his self-imposed sanction.

Speaking via his new book “Life: My Story Through History”, Pope Francis said, “Only very occasionally do I allow myself to watch: for example, when a new president is sworn in, or I watched briefly once when there had been a plane crash.

“I switched it on, too, to follow Sunday mass while I was being treated at the Gemelli University Hospital in Rome.

“But I didn’t watch the coronation of Charles III, the new British king, for example, or many other important world events. Not out of disdain, but because I made a vow.”

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Clark wants special taskforce to rescue Chibok girls

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Pa Edwin Clark, Leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), has urged the Federal Government to appoint a special taskforce to ensure the rescue of the remaining Chibok girls held by Boko Haram

The elder statesman made the call while briefing newsmen in Abuja on Monday at a ceremony to mark the Chibok girls’ 10th anniversary in captivity.

While expressing displeasure over the failure of past administrations to rescue the girls, Clark urged President Bola Tinubu to leave no stones unturned to secure the release of the girls.

“About 90 of them are still missing after 10 years. This should be a source of worry and concern to any government.

“Tinubu should appoint a special taskforce with brave soldiers, who are competent and transparent and not nepotic.

“Their main duty will be to travel at all times to Sambisa forest or where ever these citizens are, to look for these girls and rescue them.

“In giving this advice, I also want to add that a time limit should be given to them to carry out this task.”

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