Calls for the dismissal of Dr Betta Edu as the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation are gaining momentum.
The controversy centres around the alleged directive to transfer N585.189 million meant for vulnerable groups in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ogun, and Lagos States into a private account.
The Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, stated that appropriate action would be taken after the ongoing investigation.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) clarified it had no information related to the issue.
Civil society organizations (CSOs) and activists are leading the charge, urging President Tinubu not to tolerate impunity and demanding Edu’s removal and investigation by anti-corruption agencies. A leaked document revealed the disbursement of funds into a private account, raising concerns about the legality of the transaction.
Despite Edu’s defense, stating the payment followed due process, critics argue that the act violates anti-corruption laws. The Executive Director of the Human Rights Monitoring Agenda (HURMA) Global Resource Initiative, Buna Olaitan Isiak, called for a probe panel to set a precedent for future offenders.
Other activists, including Declan Ihekaire and Tega Oghenedoro, emphasized accountability. They urged President Tinubu to query Edu, ensuring she faces consequences if found guilty. Farooq Kperogi, a Nigerian professor based in the United States, stressed that failure to act would compromise the government’s stance against corruption.
In response, President Tinubu cautioned against condoning impunity and emphasized the importance of upholding the law. Wale Okunniyi, a civil society activist, pointed to the scandal as indicative of corruption within the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs.
Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), called for a thorough investigation into the ministry and other governmental agencies diverting public funds into personal accounts.
While awaiting a response from the Presidency, Zikirullahi Ibrahim of the Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED) found Edu’s defense laughable and suspicious. Tunde Salman of the Good Governance Team urged anti-corruption agencies to act promptly, highlighting that Edu has no ministerial immunity.
The growing controversy surrounding the N585 million scandal underscores the need for accountability and transparency in government operations.