March 5, 2024

The suspended Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Betta Edu, was on Monday denied access to see President Bola Tinubu at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.

It was confirmed that a statement announcing Edu’s suspension was released just as she was within the President’s office complex waiting for access to see him.

However, she was denied access.

Although a source said security detail and official vehicles, in which she rode to the Villa, were withdrawn, our correspondent could not confirm this.

It was later confirmed that her Villa Access Card was withdrawn.

A source in the Presidency who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity said Edu had been trying to see the President without success since January 1, 2024, a day before news broke about the suspension of the National Coordinator of the National Social Investment Programme Agency, Halima Shehu, on January 2, 2024.

The source said, “She was here (Villa) just before the statement was released. She has been trying to see the President since New Year day when he returned.

“The President is not happy about the whole thing. In fact, more may be coming because he will not tolerate anything like this.

“So, as soon as the statement came out, the cars that brought her were withdrawn immediately and they assigned two security men to see her out. Her tag was also collected.”

According to a video footage spotted on TVC News, Edu was ferried out of the admin foyer of the Villa in a black Toyota Hilux van belonging to State House security.

Another source who spoke to The PUNCH said, “The SUV shown in the TVC footage was not for Edu but for a state governor who just arrived the premises. The car was simply turning to park somewhere. She was taken out of the Villa in the black Hilux.”

Edu’s suspension followed widespread criticism after a leaked memo on December 20 revealed that she directed the Accountant-General of the Federation, Oluwatoyin Madein, to transfer N585m to a private account owned by one Oniyelu Bridget.

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

The President also directed the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Olu Olukoyede, 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 there under.

“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,” a statement signed by the Tinubu’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, read Monday.

The statement is titled ‘President Tinubu suspends Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation from office.’

Ngelale added, “The suspended Minister is hereby directed to hand over to the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, and she is further directed by the President to fully cooperate with the investigating authorities as they conduct their investigation.”

Furthermore, the President tasked a panel headed by the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance to, among other functions, “conduct a comprehensive diagnostic on the financial architecture and framework of the social investment programmes with a view to conclusively reforming the relevant institutions and programmes in a determined bid to eliminate all institutional frailties for the exclusive benefit of disadvantaged households and win back lost public confidence in the initiative.”

The development comes just as ministers prepare for their first performance assessment by the end of January.

Punch

Affairs TV News

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