Human Rights Lawyer, Femi Falana, on Sunday, urged the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Betta Edu, to stop insulting Nigerians following her claims that the allegations of a N585 million fraud were baseless.
The embattled minister came under heavy criticism on Friday after a memo surfaced where she directed the Accountant-General of the Federation, Oluwatoyin Madein, to transfer N585 million to a private account owned by one Oniyelu Bridget, who the ministry claimed currently serves as the Project Accountant, Grants for Vulnerable Groups.
The instructions for the payment are contained in a leaked memo dated December 20, 2023.
The PUNCH reports that the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation said on Friday that the N585.18 million grant for vulnerable groups in four states was approved and followed the stipulated due process of government.
Speaking on the matter, which has since gone viral, the minister noted that the allegation is a mere fabrication by her detractors, who seek to frustrate her efforts in her fight against corruption and uplifting the needy.
But Falana in a statement on Sunday said that while the Minister has not denied that she approved the “payment of the over half a billion Naira to a private account in contravention of, the extant Public Service Rules as well as the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Offences Act and the Penal Code applicable in the Federal Capital Territory,” she refused to, “apologise to the Federal Government and people of Nigeria and calling it quits for betraying the confidence reposed in her, the Minister has arrogantly said that the N585.18 million fraud allegation is a mere fabrication by her detractors and an alleged attempt by mischief makers to undermine her ministry’s effort in fighting corruption and uplifting the needy.”
Speaking further, Falana noted that though the Accountant-General of the Federation, Oluwatoyin Madein, has successfully frustrated the criminal diversion of the said sum of N585.18 million from the public treasury, it is crystal clear from the leaked memorandum of the Minister that the offence of an attempt to commit a felony has already been completed.
“There can be no legal justification for the criminal diversion of the said sum of N585.18 million for disbursement to vulnerable people in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Lagos and Ogun States since the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs has collated the individual bank accounts of all the vulnerable people
“Having regard to the facts and circumstances of this extremely embarrassing drama, we commend the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for the recovery of the sum of N37 billion meant for vulnerable people in Nigeria.
“We also call on the Commission to speed up the ongoing investigation of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs with a view to charging all indicted persons before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory as soon as possible,” the Falana said.