N585M Scandal: ‘Apologise To FG, Nigerians,’ Falana Tells Betta Edu

Human Rights Lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN, called on the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Betta Edu, to apologise to the Federal Government, Nigerians and call it quit for betraying the confidence reposed in her.

Falana also advised Edu to stop insulting her country following her claims that the allegations of a N585 million fraud against her were baseless and unfounded.

The young female minister came under scathing criticism at the weekend after a memo dated December 20, 2023 surfaced and showed that she directed the Accountant-General of the Federation, Oluwatoyin Madein, to transfer N585 million to a private account owned by one Oniyelu Bridget.

The ministry claimed Oniyelu Bridget is currently serves as the Project Accountant, Grants for Vulnerable Groups.

Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation had in the heat of the criticism on Friday defended the action, saying the N585.18 million grant for vulnerable groups in four states was approved and followed the prescribed due process of government.

The embattled ministerd also declared on Saturday that the allegations of fraud rocking her Ministry is baseless and unfounded.

Edu added that the claims of fraud are also attempts to stymie the efforts she is making to fight corruption and uplift those in need – the vulnerable Nigerians.

She stated this on her verified Facebook page shortly after the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) had issued a statement clarifying why Edu’s over N585m payment request was not honoured.

Edu noted that in the course of her work, she has encountered resistance from forces whose hands may not be clean, but emphasised that her commitment to transparency, accountability, and eradicating corruption remains unwavering.

But Falana in a statement on Sunday pointed out that while the Minister has not denied that she approved the “payment of the over half a billion Naira to a private account in contravention of, the extant Public Service Rules as well as the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Offences Act and the Penal Code applicable in the Federal Capital Territory,” she has yet to, “apologise to the Federal Government and people of Nigeria and call it quits for betraying the confidence reposed in her.”

The activist lawyer added that the “Minister has arrogantly said that the N585.18 million fraud allegation is a mere fabrication by her detractors and an alleged attempt by mischief makers to undermine her ministry’s effort in fighting corruption and uplifting the needy.”

Falana further noted that though the Accountant-General of the Federation, Oluwatoyin Madein, has successfully frustrated the criminal diversion of the said sum of N585.18 million from the public treasury, it is crystal clear from the leaked memorandum of the Minister that the offence of an attempt to commit a felony has already been completed.

“There can be no legal justification for the criminal diversion of the said sum of N585.18 million for disbursement to vulnerable people in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Lagos and Ogun States since the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs has collated the individual bank accounts of all the vulnerable people

“Having regard to the facts and circumstances of this extremely embarrassing drama, we commend the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for the recovery of the sum of N37 billion meant for vulnerable people in Nigeria.

“We also call on the Commission to speed up the ongoing investigation of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs with a view to charging all indicted persons before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory as soon as possible,” the Falana said.

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