February 12, 2024
#African News #News

#BettaGate: What does the law say about public funds in private accounts?

 

 

#BettaGate: What does the law say about public funds in private accounts?

 

Edu believes it is legal in civil service to pay the funds for a project into the private account of the project accountant.

Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta-Edu. [Daily Trust]

 

Trouble started for Betta — the youngest minister in President Bola Tinubu’s cabinet — when a leaked document showed that she allegedly disbursed ₦585,198,500.00 into a private account.

 

 

But the embattled minister has denied any wrongdoing, arguing that the disbursement of the funds followed due process.

According to her spokesperson, Rasheed Zubair, it is legal in civil service to pay the funds for a project into the private account of the project accountant.

 

In this case, Bridget is said to be the accountant for the Renewed Hope Grant for Vulnerable Groups — a project to be executed in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Lagos and Ogun States.

However, Edu and her spokesperson’s claims contradict the position of the law.

It is unambiguously stated in the Financial Regulations 2009 that public money should under no circumstances be paid into a private account.

Chapter 7, Section 713 of the regulations states,“Personal money shall in no circumstances be paid into a government bank account, nor shall any public money be paid into a private bank account.”

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In addition, the section says, “Any officer who pays public money into a private account is deemed to have done so with fraudulent intention.”

Buttressing this, the Accountant General of the Federation in a statement last week said, “No bulk payment is supposed to be made to an individual’s account in the name of Project Accountant.”

Madein confirmed that Edu requested her to send the fund to Bridget but she did not carry out the payment,

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 adding that the minister’s action was against financial regulations.

The AGF reiterated her determination “To uphold the principles of accountability and transparency in the management of public finances. She advised MDAs to always ensure that the requisite steps are taken in carrying out financial transactions.”

Chapter 3 section 301 of the financial regulations also states that only the Minister of Finance is empowered to issue warrants for the disbursement of appropriated funds.

 

The section reads in part, “The Annual Estimates and Appropriation Act are instruments used to limit and arrange the disbursement of the funds of the Federal Government. No expenditure may be incurred except on the authority of a warrant issued by the Minister of Finance.”

This further supports the claim by the AGF that Edu’s action was against financial regulations.

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