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Betta Edu: Spare no one, bring all those culpable to book — Obi tells Tinubu

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The presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, has told President Bola Tinubu not to spare anybody found culpable in the alleged fund diversion scandal involving the suspended Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu.

Obi made the call in a statement via his verified X (formerly Twitter) handle on Thursday.

The former Anambra State Governor noted that the government should go beyond the suspension of the minister and carry out a comprehensive investigation into the matter.

He described Edu’s suspension as a welcomed development, calling on the government to give the problem of public sector corruption severe urgency.

Meanwhile, Obi expressed disappointment, saying a ministry created in good faith to attend to the plight of the suffering masses was being turned into a conduit pipe to steal from the poor, as seen in the current and previous ministers of the ministry.

Obi stated, “I like to add my voice with most Nigerians concerned about accountability in government and judicious use of public funds, to welcome the suspension of Edu, and subsequent directives for her investigation.

“The investigation must be comprehensive so that all those culpable are brought to book,” he added.

Obi cautioned against taking the issue lightly, saying the suspension of the minister should not be a window-dressing action, but rather a peg to get all those who are deserving of blame punished, just like the minister.

Obi said, “By a sad coincidence, the alleged fraudulent diversion of N585 million of public money by Edu broke almost at the same moment that the minister who held the same portfolio in the last administration is being investigated for a whopping N37 billion misappropriation.

“The ministry may have been created by the system as a conduit pipe to siphon public funds while using the poor as a face.

“Equally worrisome and disgusting is the fact that the missing funds are meant for poverty alleviation in a time of severe suffering among the people.

“Unfortunately, the ruling elites can shamelessly convert, divert, or misappropriate such huge sums meant for the poor and cannot be trusted to address the severe poverty ravaging the people.

“It is not only immoral but also insensitive for those entrusted with funds for public welfare to steal from the poor,” the Labour Party leader said.

Obi called on the Tinubu’s administration to use these cases to initiate a thorough system-wide and systematic investigation of all reported cases of fraud and corruption among high government officials in the country.

Recall that President Tinubu suspended Edu on Monday following controversies about financial transactions she authorised in her ministry.

The suspension, according to a statement by presidential spokesperson Ajuri Ngelale, had immediate effect.

The scandal included the approval of payment of hundreds of millions of naira into the private accounts of civil servants.

Edu had come under criticism from Nigerians for ordering the transfer of N585.2 million into the private bank account of a civil servant, who is the accountant in charge of grants for vulnerable Nigerians.

The Minister had issued a memo to the Accountant General of the Federation in December 2023, ordering the said amount to be paid into the civil servant’s private bank account.

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Ogun Assembly passes Assembly Commission Amendment bill

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The Ogun House of Assembly on Wednesday passed the State House of Assembly Service Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2024.

The passage of the bill followed  presentation of the Committee’s report by the Chairman, House Committee on Establishments and Public Service Matters, Mr Babatunde Tella at plenary in Abeokuta.

Tella moved the motion for its adoption, seconded by Mr Adeyanju Adegoke and supported by all the members.

The bill was later read and adopted clause by clause before the Committee of Whole.

The Majority Leader, Mr Yusuf Sheriff, moved the motion for the third reading of the bill, seconded by the Minority Leader, Mr Lukmon Adeleye and supported by the Whole House through a unanimous voice vote.

Consequently, the Deputy Clerk of the House, Mrs Funmilayo Adeyemi, took the third reading of the bill before the lawmakers.

The Speaker, Mr Oludaisi Elemide, directed that the clean copy of the bill be forwarded to Gov. Dapo Abiodun for his assent.

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Abuja court gives EFCC go-ahead to arrest ex-Kogi Governor, Yahaya Bello

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A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday, ordered that a warrant be issued to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for immediate arrest of former Governor of Kogi, Alhaji Yahaya Bello.

Justice Emeka Nwite, in a ruling on EFCC’s ex-parte motion, held that after listening to the submission of commission’s counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, and reading the affidavit in support of the motion, including the exhibits and written address, he was inclined to grant the application.

It was earlier reported that a High Court sitting in Lokoja on Wednesday, restrained the EFCC from arresting, detaining and prosecuting Bello

Justice I.A Jamil, who gave the order in a two-hour judgment delivered in suit no HCL/68/M/2020, held that infringing on Bello’s “fundamental human rights is null and void.”

The judge, who dismissed the commission’s application challenging the jurisdiction of the court, said: “By this order, the EFCC is hereby restrained from arresting, detaining and prosecuting the applicant.

“This is a definite order following the earlier interim injunction given.”

However, in a ruling delivered by Justice Nwite on Wednesday, the judge ordered that a warrant be issued to the commission for Bello’s immediate arrest.

He also directed that the former governor be produced before the court on April 18 for arraignment.

“It is hereby ordered as follows:

“That an order of this honourable court is hereby made directing and/or issuing a warrant for the immediate arrest of the defendant for the purpose of bringing him before this honourable court for arraignment.

“That case is adjourned to 18th day of April, 2024 for arraignment,” he declared.

NAN reports that the EFCC, in the motion ex-parte marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/98/2024 dated April 16 and filed April 17, sought six orders.

These include “an order granting leave to the complainant/applicant to effect service of the charge together with the proof of evidence on the defendant by substituted means to wit; by pasting the charge at the last known address of the defendant within the jurisdiction of this honourable court being: 9, Benghazi Street, Wuse Zone 4, Abuja.

“An order directing and/or issuing an arrest warrant for the immediate arrest of the defendant for the purpose of bringing him before this honourable court for arraignment.”

In the alternative, the anti-graft agency sought an order issuing and directing the publishing of a public summons requiring/ commanding the defendant to appear before the court on a named date, among others.

The conflicting orders came after the EFCC had appealed against the initial order, and the appeal was scheduled for hearing on April 22 in Appeal No: CA/ABJ/CV/175/2024 between EFCC and Alhaji Yahaya Bello.

The Yahaya Bello Media Office had, in a statement signed by Onogwu Mohammed, alerted the nation to a siege on the former Governor’s Abuja residence.

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Zulum approves N1.3bn scholarship for 997 nursing, midwifery students

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Gov. Babagana Zulum, of Borno has approved the release of N1.3billion as scholarship for 997 nursing and midwifery students from the state.

Zulum stated this on Wednesday while inaugurating the scholarship programme at the College of Nursing and Midwifery, Maiduguri.

He said that out of the 1,080 nominations, 40 from each of the 27 local government areas of the state, 997 qualified to benefit from the scholarship.

He also announced that the 997 beneficiaries of the scholarship would receive automatic employment after graduation.

The governor said that the support was to encourage the students to complete their studies so as to bridge the workforce demand in the state’s healthcare system.

“The government has allocated  N1,305,189,000 for scholarship, with a breakdown of N124,149,000 earmarked for tuition fees, the remaining N1,181,040,000 will be disbursed as monthly stipend of N30,000 to each beneficiary throughout their studies,” Zulum said.

He added that N201 million bursary allowance would be given to 2,010 nursing and midwifery students who did not benefited from the scholarship, and directed that each of them should receive N100,000.

Zulum, who stated that ongoing construction of two colleges of nursing would be completed this year, inaugurated a lecture theatre complex and a 3,000-capacity multipurpose hall at the college.

Earlier, Lawan Wakilbe, the Commissioner for Education, said that the government had approved over N6 billion scholarship, out of which about N2.7 billion was disbursed to students from the state studying in higher institutions across the country.

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