EFCC summons 20 directors, others from ministry of Humanitarian Affairs


As a follow-up to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation probe, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has summoned 20 senior directors and officials of the ministry.

Some of the officials, The PUNCH reports, were questioned by investigators at the EFCC headquarters on Thursday.

This latest development followed a detailed investigation report on the ministry and recommendations presented by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission to the EFCC on Tuesday.

A source, who confided in one of PUNCH correspondents on Thursday, said, “The EFCC is also probing some officials in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs. Some director-generals and civil servants; about 20 of them, are being interrogated. Some have been quizzed, and more are still coming for interrogation as the investigation continues.”

Financial improprieties

Another source further revealed that the probe had been widened to uncover various financial improprieties that might have been carried out since the ministry was created in 2019.

The source stated, “The fraud that was carried out in the ministry is very massive. It spans several projects and programmes executed over the past years from the immediate past administration into the new administration. Also, ex-minister Sadiya, Betta Edu, and Halima Shehu are not the only ones being quizzed. Several civil servants and ministry officials were involved too.”

Findings indicate that the collaboration between the EFCC and the ICPC would expect to expose more financial misconduct and other mischief perpetrated by civil servants since the Buhari administration period.

It had been reported how the ICPC intercepted and recovered N50bn from the humanitarian affairs ministry between July and August 2023.

The money, which was about to be embezzled, was recovered by the ICPC and paid into the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Some officials had attempted to transfer the N50bn into private bank accounts but it was intercepted and recovered by the ICPC under its former Chairman, Bolaji Owasanoye.

In the spirit of synergy and to deepen the ongoing probe of the humanitarian affairs ministry, the ICPC chairman, Musa Aliyu, SAN, presented its investigation report to the EFCC chairman, Ola Olukoyede, at a meeting held at the EFCC headquarters.

The meeting had in attendance the chairmen and management staff of the two anti-graft agencies. It was aimed at deepening the cooperation and synergising efforts for greater impact in Nigeria’s anti-corruption drive.

The collaboration between the two agencies, Aliyu said, was to strengthen the nation’s fight against corruption, adding that the visit to the EFCC was a show of commitment to the existing relationship between the two agencies.

He expressed the readiness of the ICPC under his leadership to provide the needed support and cooperation in the interest of eradicating corruption in Nigeria.

“We need to work together, and we cannot do this without a good relationship. That’s why I think I need to extend this hand of friendship to the EFCC so that we can effectively partner in the fight against corruption in Nigeria,” he said.

“I am aware that there’s an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) between the EFCC and ICPC. I’m willing and ready to partner whenever there’s any issue of interest in the fight against corruption.

“I’ll be reaching out to my brother and chairman of EFCC on issues I think we can partner with because there’s no need for us to be duplicating responsibilities, wasting resources and time. I hope with this first meeting, we are going to be meeting regularly to review what we are doing together,’’ he noted.

On his part, Olukoyede concurred with the position of collaboration, saying the meeting had also presented an opportunity for the review of the existing MoU between the two agencies.

“We have areas of similar mandates and with a population of about 250 million people, there’s so much in our hands and I can tell you that the enormity of the work demands that we work together,’’ he noted.

The EFCC boss also said that the political will of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to fight corruption, as demonstrated in recent events, was enough boost for anti-corruption agencies to give their best.

Sources said the ICPC report detailed the various roles played by several officials in the aborted move to divert the N50bn belonging to the National Social Investment Programme Agency and other infractions.

The report is expected to assist the EFCC in its investigation of the suspended humanitarian affairs minister, Betta Edu, ex-minister Sadiya Umar-Farouq, and Ms Halima Shehu, the suspended National Coordinator and CEO of the National Social Investment Programme, an agency under the humanitarian ministry.

Edu is being investigated for authorising the transfer of N585m into the private account of an accountant in the ministry, Bridget Oniyelu while Umar-Farouq, who served as a minister under former President Muhammadu Buhari, is answering tough questions over alleged N37bn money laundering.

Shehu on the other hand is under probe for allegedly moving N44bn NSIP funds into some private and corporate accounts without presidential approval.

Edu, who was suspended by President Bola Tinubu on Monday, had claimed that the N585m payment was meant for vulnerable groups in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ogun, and Lagos states.

In her defence, her Media Assistant, Rasheed Olarewaju, argued it was legal within the civil service for such payments to be made into private accounts of staff members, especially project accountants.

But the Accountant-General of the Federation, Dr Oluwatoyin Madein, said she did not honour the request to pay N585m into the private account, adding that the minister was rather advised on the appropriate steps to take in making such payments in line with the established payment procedure.