The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has seized the passports of Betta Edu, suspended Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, and her predecessor, Sadiya Umar-Farouq.
We had reported that Edu arrived at the EFCC headquarters, in Abuja at 10am on Tuesday and was grilled for hours.
Recall also that her predecessor, Umar-Farouq, was quizzed by investigators for 12 hours on Monday in connection with the probe into the N37.1 billion allegedly laundered during her tenure in office, through a contractor, James Okwete.
A source from the anti-graft agency who spoke to Punch disclosed that the passports of Edu and the former minister were seized to deter them from fleeing the country while the investigation subsists.
“The commission has seized the passports of the two ministers, Sadiya Shehu and Betta Edu. We have also seized Mrs Halima Shehu’s passport pending the conclusion of investigations. The commission does not want to risk having any of them leave the country,” the source said
It was also learnt that Managing Directors of three commercial banks connected to the diversions were also questioned on Tuesday over the fraud.
The source revealed, “The MDs of the banks were grilled by our interrogators at the EFCC headquarters on Tuesday. They were invited and are being probed in connection with the uncovered N44bn fraud and the N585m involving Halima Shehu and Betta Edu.
“The suspended minister and the coordinator have both given new revelations during their interrogations, and the investigation is still ongoing.’’
Meanwhile, a senior EFCC official, who spoke to Daily Trust yesterday, said: “I can tell you that the CEOs and MDs of Zenith Bank, Providus Bank and Jaiz Bank are currently being grilled by our interrogators here at the headquarters.
“They were invited and are being probed in connection with the some of the financial irregularities uncovered in the humanitarian affairs ministry.
Asked whether they would be released on administrative bail on Tuesday, the source said that he was not sure.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday demanded the immediate suspension of Minister of Interior, Mr. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo over the award of N438 million contract to a company he co-founded by the humanitarian affairs ministry.
Debo Ologunagba, National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, urged President Bola Tinubu to take immediate action to protect the resources meant for the wellbeing of poor Nigerians from further plundering by suspending Ojo and handing him over to the EFCC for investigation.
The party said, “Nigerians are appalled by the lame excuse by Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo in claiming that he has no interest in the company despite his confession of owning huge shares in the firm; a channel through which he allegedly benefitted immensely from the said fraudulent consultancy fee payment.
The PDP challenges the Interior minister to publish the details of the due process certification documents, the scope of job, the experts and modules used as well as particulars of the 11 million Nigerian households claimed to have been verified within a space of one month.”