Politics

“It’s not my fault” – Interior minister speaks after being linked to Betta Edu’s alleged fraud

The minister of interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, has distanced himself from claims of owning a company, New Planet Projects Limited, awarded a contract by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation.

New Planet Projects Limited, allegedly owned by the minister, had gotten N438 million as “consultancy fees” from the suspended Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation Betta Edu.

But Tunji-Ojo has denied owning the said firm, insisting that he resigned as a company director in 2019.

He blamed the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) for failing to update its website on his resignation as a director.

He told Channels Televison: “I am not a signatory to the company. As I’ve always said, I came into public office with a commitment to base my service on sincerity of purpose and openness. I believe that Nigerians don’t deserve to be kept in the dark in terms of public office operations.

“And actually, I was shocked because the company in question was a company where I was a director. About five years ago, I had resigned from my directorship.

“I and my wife founded the company 15 years years ago. Well, in 2019, when I got to the House of Representatives, when I won election precisely, I made a change.

“I had resigned as director of the company to hold office”, adding that he is only a shareholder of the company, which is not in violation of the law.
“Of course, and to the best of my knowledge, the public service rule does not prohibit public officers from being shareholders.”

However, Ripples Nigeria reports that the National Programme Manager for the Grants for Vulnerable Groups (GVG), Thalis Apalowo, was the minister’s aide when he was a member of the House of Representatives.

Thalis Apalowo served as his Legislative Aide, and according to sources, Tunji-Ojo was responsible for his appointment as the GVG programme manager.

“He was the one who lobbied for his appointment as coordinator of programme under the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, he is his close aide,” a source said.

It is believed that Apalowo facilitated the consultancy contract for New Planet Projects Limited due to his relationship with the Interior Minister and his position within the Humanitarian Affairs ministry.

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