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Tinubu rules out Edu’s reinstatement

Tinubu, APC

…Suspended Minister indicts President’s aide

By Our Correspondent

President Bola Tinubu has ruled out the possibility of reinstating Dr Betta Edu as Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation.

The President suspended Edu from office on January 8 for her alleged involvement in financial scandal running into billions of Naira belonging to the ministry.

Edu was found to have illegally approved payment of hundreds of millions of Naira to some private companies and civil servants in contravention of extant rules.

One of the payments was the N585 million paid into the United Bank for Africa (UBA) account of a project accountant in the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry. A company belonging to the Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo was also reported to have received N438 million payment for unverifiable contract.

The suspended Minister is currently being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) while Tunji-Ojo is being investigated by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC).

However, some prominent chieftains of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) are reported to be mounting pressure on the President to give Edu a soft landing.

It was gathered on Sunday that the party leaders hinged their pleas on the fact that Edu, in her previous position as National Woman Leader of the APC, played a key role in mobilising support for Tinubu’s election during the last electioneering.

They reminded the President that it was in recognition of her contribution to the victory of the APC in the last presidential election that earned her the ministerial appointment in the first place.

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A top party source privy to the rapprochement moves, told our correspondent on Sunday, that party leaders were however not unmindful of the effects of the Edu scandal on the image of the APC at the national level.

The source, who did not want his name in print, said, “It was a difficult task trying to convince President Tinubu to give Edu a soft landing despite the fact that she payed a prominent role during the residential campaign.

“Edu wept profusely when some of our leaders managed to prevail on the President to grant her audience a few days ago. But the president was not moved one bit.

“President Tinubu did not mince words in telling her and the party leaders pleading on her behalf that she should forget about reinstatement. However, the President left everyone guessing regarding her ongoing investigation by the EFCC”.

Another source confirmed to our correspondent that Edu named one of the President’s top aides as her enabler. The said aide is known to be one of the President’s long standing political associates.

Tinubu was said to have been taken aback by the revelation of the aide’s deep involvement in Edu’s reckless looting of public treasury and the effects on the administration’s anti corruption campaign.

A source in the Presidency said the President has tactically stripped the top aide of his official functions and has delegated the responsibilities of his office to two other officials in the Presidency.

Other multiple sources said the President had placed the influential aide on security watch shortly before he travelled to France last week on a private visit.

It was reliably gathered that Tinubu’s initial plan was to send the errant aide packing, but that on a second thought, he felt it was rather too early to kick out such a prominent aide barely seven months into his administration.

“President Tinubu was scandalised by the involvement of his close associate in the huge financial scandal perpetrated by Betta Edu. He felt disappointed that one of those he trusted to drive his administration’s anti corruption campaign has turned out to join the corruption bandwagon so early in the life of the administration.

“I am not in a position to answer your question as to whether or not the President is going to fire him anytime soon because I cannot read his mind. That is strictly left to him since he alone has the prerogative to hire and fire”, one of the sources said.

There have been a deluge of corruption allegations involving other top officials of the administration. The Minister of Works, Dave Umahi is presently in the eye of the storm over alleged payment of some N9 billion to a Microfinance bank for unspecified project.

Also, the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, is contending with allegations of receiving $170 million in bribes and releasing several vessels seized for illegal oil bunkering and oil thieves.

Although both the Works Minister and the Naval Chief have come out to defend their positions through their establishments the allegations have continued to gain traction in the public space.

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