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Alleged N585m Fraud : Documents reveals Betta Edu’s Adherence to Due Process

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The suspended minister, Dr. Betta Edu, currently facing investigation for an alleged N585 million fraud, is said to have meticulously followed existing due processes, according to a source conversant with modern administrative procedures.

The source explained that senior officials of the Ministry, notably Halima Shehu – who handled the entire process, seemed to have disappeared from the controversy, describing the development as tactical manoeuvre and calling on President Bola Tinubu to demand further clarification on the matter.

Barrister Jim Ekpeyong, a concerned citizen, also told newsmen in Abuja on Sunday, that the documents revealed that Edu’s alleged involvement in a fund transaction request, approved and executed into an assistant director, Mrs.

Bridget’s account, with sources from the Ministry confirming adherence to Financial Regulations applicable to MDAs.

The document asserted that the suspended minister adhered to established processes within the humanitarian ministry, supported by Financial Regulations for MDAs.

Another document shares details of the 2021 FG’s payment to project accountant personal accounts in MDAs, highlighting Mrs. Bridget’s role in overseeing financial activities related to the program.

Despite financial regulations binding MDA transactions, the released documents argued that the minister’s actions aligned with established procedures, emphasizing Mrs. Bridget’s duty to manage funds disbursement and retirements under the specified regulations.

The funds in question were said to be intended for beneficiaries under Mrs. Bridget’s monitoring and supervision through a payment system. Notably, Mrs. Bridget, an Assistant Director and civil servant in the ministry, is stated to be unrelated to Dr. Betta.

The source from the ministry defended Mrs. Bridget, asserting that the payment request process was well-established, insisting there was no illegality involved.

The source argued that the controversy appears to be a trap set to tarnish the image of the government, emphasizing, “no money is missing and the program’s transactions were successful.”

It questions the call for Dr. Betta Edu’s resignation, pointing out her proactive reporting of a missing 44 billion from the NSIPA account, with a subsequent recovery of 39.8 billion.

The source contended that the minister’s commitment is driven by a desire to serve and achieve President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s poverty-alleviation plans, dismissing accusations of fraudulent intentions.

The narrative underscored Dr. Betta Edu’s dedication to breaking records and her courage in pursuing the government’s goals despite challenges.

According to the source from the ministry: “She has done nothing illegal, it was just a trap which I believe she’s going to survive. The process by which she requested the payment to Mrs Bridget, was already established in the ministry, there are regulations for it within the ministry and all MDAs have been using it over the decades. So it’s not that Edu had bad intentions nor did the destination account associated with her, but I think some individuals just want to use her to embarrass the government. People that are after her position took advantage of the situation and the target is to tarnish the image of the government.

“What people are ignoring is that, is money missing? No. Did the program carry out the transactions successfully? Yes.

“So why call for her head?
Was the 44 billion missing from the NSIPA account in the space of one week, as she reported to the appropriate authorities for further investigation, stolen? Yes

“And 39.8 billion has been recovered so far, from the perpetrators and paid back into the government account? Yes.

“This document and regulation process should let Nigerians know that she’s not associated with any intention of fraud in this government.

“Edu is just a young woman willing to serve, break records in this government, and achieve President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s plans to pull millions of Nigeria out of Poverty, which many are scared of her courage and hardworking spirit,” Barr Ekpenyong stated.

The source also urged President Tinubu to check the activities of old brigade politicians working against “the brilliant new breed appointees in his administration.”

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Benue PDP to gov: Account for the N44b grants

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From Attah Ede Makurdi

The main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Benue State, on Monday, asked Governor Hyacinth Alia to give account of how he expended the N44 billion special intervention grants he received from the federal government between August 2023 to this year, 2024.

The party stated this following a startling revelation from the All Progressives Congress, APC in the State at a press briefing on Sunday night in Makurdi, that the governor received such amounts and has not done anything with it to see in the State.
The APC had during the meeting passed a vote of confidence on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu while revealing that Governor Alia has received from the federal government variously the sums of N5 Billion as post-subsidy removal fund, N9 Billion as Infrastructure Fund, and N30 Billion Sub-national Intervention Fund, collectively amounting to N44 Billion without making use of it.
The PDP State Publicity Secretary Chief Bemgba Iortyom, in a press statement issued and made available to newsmen in Makurdi, observed that the said interventions of N44 billion are outside the monthly federal allocations which have also increased by about 70% since the removal of fuel subsidy in May last year. “We as a party finds this revelation as shocking as there has been no disclosure from the governor of receipt of such funds, with the exception of the post subsidy removal (palliatives) fund which, after much pressure from the PDP, the APC had accepted having received in part N2 billion, and thereafter had kept sealed lips over the outstanding N3 billion”.”If there was a N9 billion infrastructure fund and a N30 billion Sub-national intervention fund, the people of Benue State are only getting to know about it from the APC statement, and this by all standards of transparency and accountability is unacceptable.”PDP is saddened that this non disclosure of N44 billion federal intervention grants by Governor Alia reinforces his policy of concealment and disregard for due process and the rule of law which underpin a style of governance that is in character a sole administratorship.”We recall that on several occasions, our great party had urged the governor to give account of contracts awarded for projects without recourse to due process and extant financial guidelines and regulations, or disclosure of costs for such projects.”It is our position that Governor Alia should come clean and disclose how he has expended the N44 billion special grants, as to do otherwise will be to thicken further the cloud of suspicions hovering over his administration, particularly against the backdrop of the N20 billion scandal rocking the Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs right under his watch”, the statement read in part”.

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Armed herders attacks soldiers, kill one, injured another in Benue

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From Attah Ede, Makurdi

Troops of Operations Whirl Stroke (OPWS), operating in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba States, were reportedly attacked by suspected armed herdsmen leading to the death of one soldier, while another one was injured in Ochuekwu, Benue State.

The soldiers were deployed to Ochumekwu, Apa local government area of the State to keep peace following constant attacks on the community by the armed herders.

Force Commander, Operation Whirl Stroke OPWS Major General Sunday Iserihen Igbinomwanhia who confirmed this to newsmen on Monday, in Makurdi, said one personnel was killed and one injured.

He however said the troops in response killed three and injured several of the herdsmen, while one AK47 and rounds of ammunitions were recovered from them.

” OPWS is currently carrying out a clearance operation to flush out suspected armed foreign herders who have invaded Kwande local government area of the State”, he said.

It could be recalled that in February, a soldier was killed and two (2) others were injured in Agatu local government when suspected herders laid ambush on the troops.

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Borehole Drillers Seek Expatriate Levy Review

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The Borehole Drillers’ Association of Nigeria (BODAN), has urged the Nigerian Government to reconsider its decision on the Expatriate Employment Levy (EEL), as it poses a threat to the survival of the drilling sector.

BODAN President, Mr Francis Uzoma, told newsmen on Monday that the decision has prompted many foreign drilling companies to consider relocating to other countries.

The Expatriate Employment Levy mandates an annual fee for organisations employing expatriate workers, requiring $15,000 (£12,000) for a director and $10,000 for other employees.

This move, according to the Federal Government aims to encourage foreign companies to increase the employment of Nigerian workers.

Uzoma said the federal government should reconsider the decision by reviewing the mandated levy to be more considerate in line with current economic realities.

According to him, its members, especially the foreign investors have been worried about the new decision saying it was not beneficial to continue to operate in the country.

“I just came out from a meeting with my members and they have expressed concern about the new law which mandates organisations employing expatriate workers to pay $15,000 for a director and $10,000 for other employees.

“These companies have already indicated their intentions to leave the country, many of them are Indian and Asian drillers.

“There are predictions of massive job losses, affecting mainly Nigerian workers and would contribute to unemployment.

“We are calling for total review of this annual levy as the one-month window given for payment is not tenable and would affect the economy.

“Without such reconsideration, there’s a risk of drilling companies relocating to neighboring countries, as they have expressed dissatisfaction and unfavorable business conditions”.

These effects, he added include potential repercussions on the borehole sector, hindrance to knowledge transfer, and limitations on equipment and technology use.

He stressed the potential retaliation from foreign investors, particularly Nigerians in diaspora, highlighting the importance of considering the policy’s impact.

He mentioned his intention to write to the Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, outlining the adverse effects of the policy on the economy.

NAN recalls President Bola Tinubu’s cautionary statement during the recent launch of the EEL handbook, where he warned against using the levy to obstruct potential investors.

He highlighted the government’s expectations to enhance revenue and promote indigenisation, emphasising the objective of balancing employment opportunities between Nigerians and expatriates.

Tinubu clarified that the government’s aim is to narrow wage gaps between expatriates and the Nigerian labor force.

Also, it is to simultaneously foster increased employment opportunities for qualified Nigerians within foreign companies operating in the country. (NAN)

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