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Tinubu suspends Nigeria’s Poverty Alleviation Minister over alleged corruption

The President of Nigeria has taken decisive action by suspending Dr Betta Edu, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation over allegations of diverting over 585 million Naira ($640,000; £500,000) in public funds into a personal bank account.

Tinubu suspends Nigeria’s Poverty Alleviation Minister over alleged corruption

This move, announced on Monday, comes in response to widespread public outrage over the scandal surrounding her ministry.

President Bola Tinubu's office released a statement, stating his directive to launch an investigation into Dr Edu's ministry. At 37, she is the youngest minister in President Tinubu's cabinet and is considered a close ally. Despite the allegations, she has vehemently denied any wrongdoing, asserting that the transfer into a personal account, which did not bear her name, was approved for the "implementation of grants to vulnerable groups."

Recent reports, based on a leaked document, suggest that Dr Edu instructed a senior treasury official to transfer the funds to the personal account of Bridget Oniyelu, the accountant for the government's Grants for Vulnerable Groups initiative.

The public was further incensed as it became evident that the funds were channelled into a personal account rather than a government one. Responding to the growing concerns, President Tinubu called for an investigation into the matter on Sunday. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been assigned the task of conducting a thorough inquiry into all financial transactions involving the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation.

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President Tinubu has urged Dr Edu to fully cooperate with the investigation and emphasized the necessity for reforms in government institutions overseeing National Social Investment Programmes (NSIP). This includes initiatives such as the Grant for Vulnerable Groups, aimed at addressing poverty, with a clear emphasis on rebuilding lost public confidence in these programs.

This suspension is a rare occurrence in Nigeria, marking the first since President Tinubu took office in May 2023.

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