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Former minister faces potential arrest as EFCC investigation into N37.1bn fraud escalates

Ex-minister, Sadiya Umar Farouq, risks imminent arrest by the EFCC for failing to appear at anti-graft agency's headquarters amid ongoing probe into alleged financial misconduct.

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Sadiya Umar Farouq, the former Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, is facing the risk of arrest by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) following her non-compliance with an invitation to appear for questioning regarding a suspected N37.1 billion fraud during her tenure.

The EFCC had requested Umar Farouq to attend an interrogation session at its Abuja headquarters, but on the scheduled day, she failed to appear, leaving investigators waiting for over eight hours without official communication explaining her absence.

Despite journalists and onlookers anticipating her arrival at the EFCC headquarters, the ex-minister remained absent. An EFCC investigator, speaking anonymously, disclosed that the interrogation team concluded their work for the day around 6 p.m. after it became apparent that Umar Farouq would not show up.

The EFCC official expressed the possibility of arresting Umar Farouq within the week if she fails to voluntarily appear before investigators as officially requested.

“Hajia Sadiya didn’t show up at our office today for interrogation. In fact, she kept interrogators waiting for hours. Meanwhile, our operatives may arrest her this week and bring her in for questioning if she fails to show up tomorrow,” the official stated.

Efforts to reach the ex-minister for comments were unsuccessful, and her former media aide, Nnaka Ikem, did not respond to inquiries.

Civil society organizations have called for Umar Farouq’s arrest, emphasizing the need for equal treatment of citizens under the law. The Executive Director of Accountability Lab Nigeria, Friday Odeh, urged the EFCC to act within legal expectations if the ex-minister fails to cooperate. Debo Adeniran, Chairman of the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, also urged the commission to remain steadfast in its investigation.

Meanwhile, Halima Shehu, the National Coordinator and CEO of the National Social Investment Programme Agency, who was detained by EFCC operatives in connection with the ongoing fraud probe, spent a second night in custody. Sources indicate her involvement in the alleged N37.1 billion fraud during her tenure as the former National Coordinator of the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme under the ministry.

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