Northern Nigerian Breaking News

‘How we discovered fraudulent COVID-19 funds, World Bank loan at humanitarian ministry’- EFCC

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Sunday said it discovered other fraudulent dealings involving COVID-19 funds, World Bank loan, Abacha recovered loot at the humanitarian affairs ministry.

A statement issued by  EFCC spokesperson, Dele Oyewale, on Sunday, said the funds were released to the ministry by the federal government to execute poverty alleviation programmes.

The anti-graft agency said its recent investigation into the affairs of the ministry has led to the recovery of N32.7 billion and $445,000 so far.

It revealed that a total of N32.7bn and $445,000 has been recovered so far from the investigation involving the misappropriation of funds by the suspended Humanitarian Minister, Betta Edu, her predecessor, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, and the Coordinator of the National Social Insurance Programmes Agency, Halima Shehu.

The commission stated this while dispelling commentaries, opinions, assumptions, and insinuations concerning the progress of its ongoing investigations into the alleged financial misappropriation in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

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It could be recalled that a coalition of 10 Civil Society Organisations under the aegis of Civil Society Groups Against Defamation Initiative, had urged President BolaTinubu to promptly reinstate Edu should the ongoing investigations exonerate her from any wrongdoing.

However, in the EFCC statement, Oyewale said, “The EFCC has noticed the rising tide of commentaries, opinions, assumptions, and insinuations concerning its progressive investigations into the alleged financial misappropriation in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development.

“At the outset of investigations, past and suspended officials of the Humanitarian Ministry were invited by the Commission and investigations into the alleged fraud involving them have yielded the recovery of N32.7bn and $445,000 so far.

“Discreet investigations by the EFCC have opened other fraudulent dealings involving Covid -19 funds, the World Bank loan, Abacha recovered loot released to the Ministry by the Federal Government to execute its poverty alleviation mandate.  Investigations have also linked several interdicted and suspended officials of the Ministry to the alleged financial malfeasance.

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“It is instructive to stress that the Commission’s investigations are not about individuals.  The EFCC is investigating a system and intricate web of fraudulent practices.  Banks involved in the alleged fraud are being investigated. Managing Directors of the indicted banks have made useful statements to investigators digging into the infractions.

“Those found wanting will be prosecuted accordingly.  Additionally, the EFCC has not cleared anyone allegedly involved in the fraud.  Investigations are ongoing and advancing steadily.  The public is enjoined to ignore any claim to the contrary.

“On the issue of the works of the Commission against Naira abuse,  dollarisation of the economy, and the enforcement of all extant laws relating to them,  the EFCC appreciates the avalanche of public awakening,  support and involvement demonstrated so far.  Increasingly,  members of the public are drawing the attention of the Commission to video recordings of abuse of the Naira by Nigerians from all walks of life.

“These gestures amply demonstrate the rising consciousness of the public to the sanctity of our national currency and the need for collaborative engagement to sustain the tempo.

“To this end, the Commission will always investigate and prosecute anyone involved in the abuse of the Naira.  Old videos being exhumed and flying around for the attention of the Commission are noted as the Commission is sensitive to the fact that its Special Task Force against Naira Abuse and Dollarization of the Economy commenced operations on February 7,  2024.

“However, going forward, new videos of such infractions will be investigated and prosecuted.

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“At the moment, the Commission is investigating several celebrities involved in Naira abuse.  Many of them have made useful statements to the commission and many more have been invited by investigators working on the matter.

“The EFCC will not relent in its no-sacred-cow mode of operations and the public should be wary of running afoul of laws against the crime.”

Last week, the EFCC announced that it is probing 50 bank accounts, while noting that it has now recovered a total of N30bn in the ongoing probe of the  Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, involving alleged money laundering.

The development was revealed in a bulletin titled, “EFCC Alert,” detailing some major arrests, prosecutions, and recoveries made by the commission within the last month.

The document authorised by the EFCC Chairman, Ola Olukoyede, last Monday, revealed that the recovered N30bn is now in the Federal Government’s coffers.

The document read, “Update on Betta Edu investigation. We have laws and regulations guiding our investigations. Nigerians will also know that they are already on suspension, and this is based on the investigations we have done, President Bola Tinubu has proved to Nigerians that he is ready to fight corruption.

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“Moreover, concerning this particular case, we have recovered over N30 billion, which is already in the coffers of the Federal Government.

“It takes time to conclude investigations; we started this matter less than six weeks ago. Some cases take years to investigate. There are so many angles to it, and we need to follow through with some of the discoveries that we have seen. Nigerians should give us time on this matter; we have professionals on this case, and they need to do things right. There are so many leads here and there.

“As it is now, we are investigating over 50 bank accounts that we have traced money into. That is no child’s play. That’s a big deal. Then you ask about my staff strength.

“And again, we have thousands of other cases that we are working on. Nigerians have seen the impact of what we have done so far, by way of some people being placed on suspension and by way of the recoveries that we have made. You have seen that the program itself has been suspended. We are exploring so many discoveries that we have stumbled upon in our investigation.

“If it is about seeing people in jail, well let them wait. Everything has a process to follow. So Nigerians should wait and give us the benefit of the doubt.”

The EFCC further called for a united front in the fight against corruption while urging the judiciary and legislative arms to assist the commission in its anti-corruption fight.

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Olukoyede added, “Nobody can fight the corruption war alone. So, we want Nigerians to believe in our capacity to fight this battle. We must also come together and agree that corruption is bad, and so when we are prosecuting corrupt persons, Nigerians should believe in it.

“We expect Nigerians to also appeal to their conscience because the negative impact of corruption is all over for all to see. So we must agree that what is wrong is wrong.

“I also appeal to other stakeholders – the National Assembly and the judiciary to support us in this mission. Every Nigerian must be a corruption fighter. When you see something wrong, say something. Challenge corrupt politicians in your locality. Take them up. Take your governors up on the allocations they receive and make them accountable. By so doing, you will be supporting the fight against corruption.”


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