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EFCC seizes passports of Betta Edu, Sadiya Farouq

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Bettagate: Buhari's cash-cow, Tinubu's nemesis

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Tuesday, seized the passports of the suspended Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu, and Sadiya Umar-Farouq, her predecessor and barred them from foreign travel over the ongoing investigations into scandals in the ministry.

Edu reported at the EFCC headquarters, Abuja at 10am on Tuesday and was quizzed for several hours.

While the EFCC interrogated the suspended minister over the N44bn fraud uncovered in the ministry, it was learnt that managing directors of three commercial banks, including Zenith Bank, Providus Bank, and Jaiz Bank, were also questioned on Tuesday over the fraud.

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The scandal involving Edu burst open after a leaked memo revealed that the suspended minister directed the Accountant-General of the Federation, Oluwatoyin Madein, to transfer N585m to a private account owned by one Oniyelu Bridget, who the ministry claimed currently serves as the Project Accountant, Grants for Vulnerable Groups.

The minister had claimed that the N585m payment was meant for vulnerable groups in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ogun, and Lagos states, describing the allegations against her as baseless.

The Media Assistant to the minister, Rasheed Olarewaju, said in a statement that it was legal within the civil service for such payments to be made into private accounts of staff members, especially project accountants.

Amid public pressure, President Tinubu on Monday suspended Edu and directed her to hand over to the permanent secretary in the ministry.

On Tuesday, Edu honoured the EFCC invitation and she was subjected to marathon interrogation by investigators.

It was learnt that her personal and official passports were taken away by detectives and she was barred from travelling out of the country.

Her predecessor, Umar-Farouq, had been quizzed by investigators for 12 hours on Monday in connection with the probe into the N37.1bn allegedly laundered during her tenure in office, through a contractor, James Okwete.

The ex-minister’s passport was also seized as part of her bail conditions before she was subsequently released late Monday night.

 

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