N3bn NSIPA fraud: Betta Edu reacts to alleged involvement

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Betta Edu

The Minister for Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu, has denied involvement in an alleged N3 billion fraud at the National Social Investment Programme Agency (NSIPA).

Edu denied the allegation in a Thursday, January 4, statement signed by her Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Rasheed Olanrewaju Zubair.

The statement said the allegations against the minister were “spurious” and suspected to have been sponsored by some fifth columnists aimed at dragging her name into the ongoing investigations of NSIPA scandal by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

“Ordinarily, there is no substance in the said publication currently in some online media and does not deserve a response, but there is need to set the record straight for Nigerians and followers of the current development in NSIPA under the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation to be properly informed,” the statement read in part.

According to the statement, at no time did Edu request any funds, let alone N3 billion, since her assumption as minister from NSIPA.

It added that the verification of the National Social Register (NSR), which was quoted online, was approved by President Bola Tinubu and the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in line with the Renewed Hope Mandate to expand the NSR as well as imbue it with integrity.

“The conclusion of the well-publicised Verification Exercise led to the expansion of the National Social Register and commencement of payment sequentially and directly from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to various beneficiaries.

“For the records, all the programmes embarked (upon) by the ministry under the current Minister, Dr. Betta Edu, thus far, including Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), Grants for Vulnerable Groups (GVG) and others secured the approval of Mr President.

“Again, let it be known that there was no time the ministry not (Dr. Betta) withdrew any fund from the NSIPA account, let alone N3 billion without due diligence, and painstaking approval from the appropriate authorities,” the statement further read.

The Herald can report that a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) support group, PDP Forever Initiative, on Wednesday asked President Bola Tinubu to suspend Edu to pave the way for an effective investigation of corruption allegations in the NSIPA.

Recall that Tinubu had on Tuesday suspended Halima Shehu, the NSIPA chief executive officer, over alleged financial impropriety and appointed Akindele Egbuwalo as new head of the agency.

Shehu was subsequently nabbed by the EFCC.

In a press conference in Abuja, the group alleged that the federal government through the minister of humanitarian affairs is attempting to cover up some wrongdoings in government.

The president of PDP Forever Initiative, Gideon Obande, said it was wrong for the president to approve the suspension of Shehu and immediately replace her with a Yoruba man instead of the most senior civil servant in her agency who is from the north.

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