One of the ministers in President Bola Tinubu-led administration, Betta Edu, has asked Oluwatoyin Madein, the accountant-general of the federation, to transfer N585 million to the bank account of an individual, sparking anger in several quarters.
The instruction for the payment is contained in a leaked letter dated December 20, 2023.
The letter, signed by the humanitarian affairs and poverty alleviation minister, was titled: “Mandate for Payment of Grant for Vulnerable Groups in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Lagos and Ogun States Respectively”.
the letter, Edu instructed the accountant-general to transfer N585,189,500 to the UBA account of one Oniyelu Bridget Mojisola.
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According to the document, N219,429,750 was earmarked as “2023 Grant for Vulnerable Groups in Akwa Ibom state”, N73,828,750 was budgeted for Cross River state, N219,462,250 for Lagos state, and N72,468,750 for Ogun state.
The minister said the payment should be deducted from the account of the national investment office.
“This payment should be made from the National Social Investment Office account with account number: 0020208461037 to the project accountant’s details listed above.”
The letter has elicited varied reactions on the social media as many Nigerians questioned the rationale behind the minister’s instruction of transferring the funds to a private bank account.
The public sector financial regulations of 2009 prohibits the payment of public funds to the account of a private individual.
Section 713 of the law states that: “Personal money shall in no circumstances be paid into a government bank account, nor shall any public money be paid into a private bank account. An officer who pays public money into a private account is deemed to have done so with fraudulent intention.”
‘N585m FUND FOLLOWED DUE PROCESS’
In a statement on Friday, Rasheed Zubair, media adviser to the minister, said the N585 million fund for vulnerable groups followed “due process”.
He added that the circulation of the document on social media is another attempt to blackmail the minister.
“It is glaring that the same sponsored disgruntled elements in the past few days have been trying to smear the Honourable Minister, Dr Betta Edu, and stain her integrity because she alerted the Federal Government attention to the ongoing N44.8 Billion Fraud in NSIPA,” the statement reads.
“These elements have been trying to link her to a phantom fraud and are behind this latest misadventure.
“However, this latest vile effort of theirs is another infantile blackmail doomed for evisceration. For the avoidance, the said N585,198,500.00 was approved, and it is meant for the implementation of grants to vulnerable groups in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ogun, and Lagos states.”