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Ministry clarifies N585.18m grant payment, cites due process, legal Framework

Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs refutes claims of impropriety, asserts that fund transfer followed government guidelines

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In response to the viral circulation of a document revealing a N585.18m grant payment to an individual, the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation issued a statement on Friday, asserting that the fund approval and subsequent payment adhered to stipulated due process and legal frameworks.

The document, signed by the Minister overseeing the ministry, Betta Edu, detailed the payment of the grant designated for vulnerable groups in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ogun, and Lagos states into the account of Oniyelu Bridget, who currently serves as the Project Accountant for Grants for Vulnerable Groups.

The unusual payment method raised concerns among Nigerians, with critics questioning the rationale behind transferring such a substantial fund meant for multiple states to an individual’s account, branding the incident as potentially fraudulent.

The statement from the ministry clarified, “For the avoidance, the said N585m was approved, and it is meant for the implementation of grants to vulnerable groups in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ogun, and Lagos states.” It emphasized the legal framework in which the payment was executed.

The Renewed Hope Grant for Vulnerable Groups (GVG) is part of the Federal Government’s social intervention schemes implemented by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation. The ministry disclosed that GVG was initially launched in Kogi State, with subsequent launches in Akwa Ibom and Cross River in December 2023.

Addressing the payment recipient, Oniyelu Bridget, the ministry clarified her role as the Project Accountant for GVG from the Department of Finance, stating, “It is legal in civil service for a staff, the project accountant, to be paid and use the same funds legally and retire the same with all receipts and evidence after the project or programme is completed.”

Furthermore, the ministry asserted that the leaked document was an internal memo to the Accountant-General of the Federation, seeking approval for the N585m payment. The statement aimed to dispel any notions of financial impropriety and reaffirm the adherence to established government protocols in the fund transfer.

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