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Alleged N585m: EFCC grills suspended minister, bank officials

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), yesterday,  began grilling suspended Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Betta Edu.

President Bola Tinubu suspended the minister on Monday over alleged payment of N585 million humanitarian funds meant for vulnerable groups in Akwa Ibom, Lagos, Cross River and Ogun states into a private account.

Edu became the first minister to be suspended from office since members of the Federal Executive Council were sworn in in August last year.

Ajuri Ngelale, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, announced her suspension in a statement.

“In line with his avowed commitment to uphold 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,” he had said.

Tinubu also created a panel headed by Wale Edun, coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, to conduct a comprehensive diagnostic on the financial architecture and framework of the social investment programmes to reform the relevant institutions and programmes conclusively.

The embattled Edu arrived the EFCC headquarters in the early hours of yesterday where she faced an anti-graft panel.

“An official invitation by the commission was sent to her on Monday and she honoured the invitation on Tuesday.

“She is being interrogated by the commission and she is expected to give proper insight into the issue at hand,’’ a highly-reliable source at the anti-graft agency said.

The source added that Edu might be detained or released to go home and return for further interrogation.

“Her release will depend on the investigation team. I cannot say whether she will be released or detained; it depends on the investigators, the investigation is still on-going.’’

Managing Directors of three leading new generation banks, were also grilled over their involvement in the alleged N585 million fraud.

Sources at the anti-graft agency told Daily Sun that the CEOs arrived at the EFCC headquarters in the early hours were still at the Commission’s headquarters as at the time of filing in this report.

He said the alleged money was paid into three separate accounts in the banks.

The source did not, however, reveal if the bank bosses would be detained or released later after the grilling which took several hours.

“Three bank Managing Directors were invited to explain their roles in the whole fraud. They were grilled by our operatives for several hours. I can’t say if they’ll be released and asked to return later for further questioning. More people will be invited to come and explain their involvement. Some Ministers who may have been involved will not be spared. The President gave a clear directive.”

The source added that the former minister of Social Development, Disaster Management and Humanitarian Affairs, Hajiya Sadiya Umar-Farouk, was still being interrogated by the EFCC.

According to the source, the former minister was released on Monday night, but she returned to the EFCC yesterday for further interrogation.


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