Betta Edu: These are the largest stolen public funds recovered by EFFC in past 3 years

Betta Edu

Corruption and the misappropriation of public funds in Nigeria are not new phenomena; in fact, at least $582 billion has been stolen from the country's coffers since its independence, according to the London-based independent policy institute Chatham House via The Economist

According to investigative journalism portal, public servants and politicians appear to be becoming brazen in recent times with at least N55.1 trillion syphoned from the national treasury under the hawkish two-term leadership of President Muhamudu Buhari.

In early April 2024, the financial police of Nigeria, EFCC, announced that it had retrieved 30 billion naira ($24 million; £19 million) from 50 bank accounts as part of an ongoing corruption investigation into suspended minister Betta Edu, according to the BBC.

Initially, suspicions of misappropriating only $640,000 of public funds into a personal bank account led to the suspension of the Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation Minister in January, before the net widened over the course of the year.

Betta Edu has refuted any allegations of misconduct.

Although this is a monumental sum, it is not unique in a nation wallowing in corrupt waters and is instead on par with public funds recovered by the EFCC over the past three years.

In this article, Clacified identifies the 4 largest EFCC busts of the previous three years.

₦30bn from Sadiya Umar-Farouk

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission successfully recovered more than N30 billion in February 2024 from the N37 billion that had been purportedly laundered in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs during the tenure of Sadiya Umar-Farouk, who was the minister prior to Betta Edu.

According to credible sources, a contractor named James Okwete facilitated the transfer of funds from government coffers to 38 different bank accounts located in five legacy commercial banks.

The EFCC successfully recovered N30 billion by attaching a lien to the bank accounts of Umar-Farouq and Okwete, individuals who, at the time of writing, are still under questioning by the anti-corruption agency's investigators.

₦39.8 billion from Halima Shehu

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) announced in January 2024 that it had recovered approximately N39.8 billion out of a purported N44.8 billion that Halima Shehu, the former National Coordinator of the National Social Investment Programme (NSIPA), had embezzled from the government account.

Shehu, a former Director of Finance and National Coordinator of NSIPA, allegedly revoked N44 billion from the government account over the course of five days, from December 27th to December 31st, 2023.

According to sources, the Ministry routinely transferred N44.8 billion in unspent funds at the end of the year; however, the underfire Betta Edu discovered the incident and reported it to the EFCC immediately.

The former NSIPA director allegedly transferred funds to individual accounts and businesses via commercial institutions without authorization.

₦30 billion from Ahmed Idris

In December 2022, EFCC disclosed the recovery of N30 billion from Ahmed Idris, the former Accountant-General of the Federation. Idris is currently in custody on charges related to a N109 billion embezzlement case.

A month before, the top-ranking civil servant had voluntarily returned $899,900 in cash.

The EFCC apprehended Idris in Kano after he refused to comply with their invitations to provide statements regarding the multi-billion naira fraud charge.

Alongside Godfrey Olusegun Akindele, Mohammed Kudu Usman, and the organisation Gezawa Commodity Market and Exchange Limited, he was arraigned in July on a 14-count indictment.

The investigations conducted by the anti-corruption agency revealed the distribution of the funds among five groups: Chris Akumas represented the RMAFC group, which received N18.7 billion; Idris represented the accountant-general group, which received N18.1 billion; a group consisting of finance commissioners of oil-producing states received N21.4 billion; Abdulaziz Yari, the former governor of Zamfara, represented the fourth group, which received N17.15 billion; and the fifth group was the consult

₦189 billion from Diezani Alison-Madueke

While the investigation extends beyond the previous three-year period, the EFCC did not disclose the entirety of the funds and assets retrieved from Diezani Alison-Madueke, the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, until April 2021.

The minister was implicated in one of the most significant financial collapses in contemporary Nigerian history; a sum of $153 million and more than 80 properties valued at approximately $80 million were reclaimed.

The revelation was documented in an interview featured in the April 2021 issue of EFCC Alert, the publication of the EFCC.

The publication comprised excerpts from an interview that Mr. Bawa was on Nigerian Television Authority's (NTA) One-on-One programme.

It is believed that Mrs. Alison-Madueke fled to the United Kingdom, where she continued to reside following her resignation from public office. 

From 2010 to 2015, she oversaw the petroleum ministry, which is responsible for the opaque Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Since her departure from office, the EFCC has initiated legal proceedings in numerous corruption cases in which her name has been mentioned, either as the principal defendant or as an accomplice.

It is noteworthy that the EFCC stated that the $153 million seized from her pertained to a single case.

Assuring her repatriation to Nigeria to confront pending charges has proven a formidable challenge for the EFCC.