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Interior minister Tunji-Ojo admits wife’s firm got N438m payment from Betta Edu

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Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, minister of interior, has said he resigned from New Planet Project Limited, a company that got a consultancy contract from the ministry of humanitarian affairs and poverty alleviation, in 2019, but admitted that his wife and co-owner of the firm currently runs it.

Tunji-Ojo spoke on Monday when he appeared on Politics Today, a Channels Television programme, to clear the air on the allegations, also admitted that the firm received payment of N438 million from the suspended humanitarian affairs and poverty alleviation minister Betta Edu.

Edu was suspended on Monday for illegally requesting to wire public funds into a private account.

Denying the allegations that his company got the said sum from Edu, Tunji-Ojo said, “Almost five years ago I resigned as director of the company, so I’m not a director. I resigned on 1st of February, 2019, you can go to the back.”

The company was registered on March 3, 2009 at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), 10 years before he was first elected as a house of representatives member.

Tunji-Ojo who represented Akoko north-east/Akoko north-west federal constituency in Ondo state between 2009 and 2023 before he was appointed as interior minister by President Bola Tinubu, accepted that he founded the company.

“Yes, I founded the company (Planet Projects LTD) 15 years ago,” he said. “But in 2019, when I won election, I resigned as director of the company almost five years ago. “I’m not a director. I resigned as far back as 2019 and CAC certified it,”

When confronted that he could have used his office to influence a contract for a company in which he is a shareholder in the ministry of his colleague, Mr Tunji-Ojo said public service rules do not prohibit him from being a shareholder.

“How could I have done that? I’m minister of Interior not minister of humanitarian. On what basis will I do that? Is a company not entitled to bid for anything?, Mr Tunji-Ojo said.

“Of course, to the best of my knowledge, public service rules do not prohibit public officers from being shareholders. What public service rules say is that you cannot be a director of which I had resigned about five years ago,” he said.

Mr Tunji-Ojo further said, “The question should be, if the company was given a job, did they do the job? Was the job validly awarded?”

It had emerged that Edu wrote the office of the accountant-general, demanding that N585 million earmarked to reduce poverty of vulnerable citizens in Akwa-Ibom, Cross-River, Lagos, and Ogun states be paid into the UBA account — 2003682151— of one Oniyelu Bridget Mojisola.

She admitted authoring the memo requesting that N585 million be paid into a private account but claimed allegations against her were plotted by fraudulent forces she has exposed.

The accountant-general, Oluwatoyin Madein, in a statement on Saturday, said Ms Edu flouted financial regulations by requesting that funds be wired into a private account.

“Mrs Madein explained that although her Office received the said request from the Ministry, it did not carry out the payment. The Ministry (Mrs Edu’s) was, however, advised on the appropriate steps to take in making such payments in line with the established payment procedure.”

The Economic Financial Crimes Commission said Ms Edu has been invited for investigation over her illegal request for N585 million for vulnerable people to be paid into a private account.

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