Trouble worsens for Betta Edu as documents reveal she approved N3.1m for flight tickets to state without airport


Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu is still sailing on troubled waters as official documents have revealed that she approved funds for flight tickets and airport taxis for members of her team to travel from Abuja to Kogi, a state with no airport, in November last year.

Documents seen by Daily Sun show that Edu approved N200,000 for flight tickets and N20,000 for airport taxi for each of her 13-man team to travel from Abuja to Kogi, while she approved N300,000 for herself, though no amount was approved for airport taxi for her. This makes it a total of N3,160,000 for flight tickets and airport taxis to travel directly to a state without an airport.

The team spent N4,374,500 on flight tickets, airport taxis, daily transport allowance and local running for the period of time spent in Kogi alone but in total, she approved the sum of N226,188,500 million for Kogi, Bayelsa and Imo states through the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation ahead of the November 11, 2023 governorship elections which includes funds disbursed to vulnerable people in the three states.

However,  Kogi has no airport and the nearest aerodrome to it is in Akure, the Ondo State capital, a distance which would take over five hours to get to by road, much farther than the distance between Kogi and Abuja by road, which is about three hours. Other airports around Kogi are in Owerri, Enugu and Asaba, Delta State, but they are all farther than Akure from Lokoja.

It is also a publicly known fact that former Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, frequently traveled by road to Abuja. At a workshop on security and business organised for editors last November by the state in Abuja, Bello was asked why the programme didn’t take place in Kogi and he said it was due to the fact that the state has no airport, hence the decision to host the event in the Federal Capital Territory.

Bello and the immediate past Minister for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, had frequently made a case for an airport to be built in Kogi. In October 2022, Sirika said that a new airport would be built in Lokoja, but that was not achieved by the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari.

Daily Sun reached out to Edu’s media advisor, Rasheed Zubair on phone and through text messages to react to the revelation but he did not respond.

Edu recently came under fire after leaked documents showed that she directed the payment of N585.189 million grant meant for vulnerable groups in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ogun and Lagos States into a private account owned by one Bridget Mojisola Oniyelu.

But last Friday, the minister, through Mr. Zubair, said the payment followed due process and that the money was paid into Oniyelu’s account because she currently serves as the project accountant of Grants for Vulnerable Groups, and that it is legal in civil service for a staff, the project accountant, to be paid and use same funds legally and retire same with all receipts and evidence after the project or programme is completed.

However, the Accountant-General of the Federation, Oluwatoyin Madein, said that her office does not make any payments on behalf of ministries, departments and agencies of government. In a statement by  Director Press, Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF), Bawa Mokwa, she said she did not carry out Edu’s request to transfer the fund into a private account and emphasised that no bulk payment is supposed to be made to an individual’s account in the name of Project Accountant. She said beneficiaries of projects should be paid through their verified bank accounts.

The Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, said that “appropriate action will be taken after the ongoing investigation” into the matter, while the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said it had no information relating to the issue.

Meanwhile, Edu’s immediate predecessor, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, is currently being probed by the EFCC for allegedly laundering N37.1 billion during her tenure through a contractor, James Okwete.


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