…threaten mass action across Nigeria, USA, UK
As debates continue to heat up over the involvement of Nigeria’s Minister of Interior, Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo in the scandalous contract at the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation; the Young Progressive Party (YPP), has called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for the immediate suspension of the Minister.
Failure to suspend Tunji-Ojo within 48 hours, the party threatened to mobilize youths across the country to shut down Abuja on Monday, 15th January, 2024, at the same time, mobilize for mass action in United States of America (USA) and United Kingdom (UK), where it boasted of large followership.
In an open letter addressed to President Tinubu Tuesday night and signed by the National Chairman of the party, Comrade Emmanuel Bishop Amakiri; the YPP cited “abuse of office” as its reason for calling for the head of Tunji-Ojo; saying it would deter him from further abusing public office.
“We have gathered evidence that a company owned by Minister Tunji Ojo, New Planet Project Limited, was paid a total of N438.1 million by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation under the leadership of Dr. Betta Edu, for consultancy services. This payment was part of the N3 billion awarded to several consultants for the National Social Register contract, which was intended for cash transfers and social investment programs.
“The payments made to Minister Tunji Ojo’s company, New Planet Project Limited, include N279 million for the verification of the list and an additional N159 million for the same purpose. It is worth noting that the company, which was registered on March 3, 2009, with registration number 804833, has Minister Tunji Ojo and his wife, Abimbola, listed as directors, with Gbadamasi Gbadamasi Clement as the company’s secretary.
“We strongly believe that Minister Tunji Ojo’s actions are in direct violation of the Nigerian Constitution and the Code of Conduct law. Sections 5 and 6 of the Code of Conduct law clearly prohibit public officers from engaging in conflicts of interest and participating in any business other than farming.
“It is a known fact that a contract of this magnitude could not have been approved except by the Federal Executive Council Meeting of which Minister Tunji Ojo is a Member. Minister Tunji Ojo who knew he had an interest in the New Planet Project Limited, had deceived the Federal Executive Council into approving the contract for him without even informing the FEC that he is a shareholder in the said company, this is deceitful, mischievous and obtaining by false pretence”, the letter reads in part.
The party also accused one Thalis Apalowo, the Coordinator of the National Programme Manager for Grants for Vulnerable Groups, as a fronter for Tunji-Ojo in securing the contract.
Mr. Apalowo was a Legislative Assistant to Hon. Tunji-Ojo during the 9th House of Representatives, when he served the House Committee on NDDC as its Chairman.
Furthermore, the party alleged that, “Apalowo was part of the suspended Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Dr. Betta Edu’s advance team that received a total of N2,515,000 for DTA (Daily Travel Allowance) for five nights, local running expenses at 30% of DTA, flight tickets, and airport taxis to Kogi State, which does not have an airport”.
The party therefore, called on the President to immediately suspend Tunji-Ojo, while seeking a “comprehensive and independent investigation into the alleged misconduct, involving the appropriate authorities and agencies”.
If found guilty of abusing his office, the YPP urged Tinubu to initiate “appropriate legal actions against Minister Tunji Ojo”, to serve as a deterrent to others.
Recall that an award of contract for verification of beneficiary’s list in the empowerment programs undertaken by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation was linked to a company owned by Hon. Tunji-Ojo.
Although the Interior Minister had since cleared the air that he resigned the ownership of the company, New Planet Project Limited since 2019, when he won election into the House of Representatives; but Nigerians believe he still has shares in the company and as such, an interested party in the firm.