BettaGate: Interior minister denies involvement as co-owned firm receives N438m from suspended colleague

Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, the Minister of Interior, has denied involvement in the consultancy contract between New Planet Project Limited (NPPL) and the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation under the suspended minister Betta Edu.

Ms Edu was suspended on Monday by President Bola Tinubu after a leaked memo detailed how she approved that over N600 million of poverty alleviation in four states be paid into a personal account of an alleged contractor.

Mr Tinubu directed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to immediate probe the suspended official accused of violating financial regulations in the country aimed at checkmating fraudulent transactions.

After her suspension, media reports claimed a firm co-owned by Mr Tunji-Ojo and his wife received about N438 million as consultancy fees alongside others that participated in a N3 billion contract awarded by the suspended minister.

Denying involvement, the interior minister said having resigned as a director of the company but remained a shareholder therein, he was unaware of the day-to-day running of the firm.

His claims of resignation as a director, which he made while featuring on Channels Television Monday evening, was punctured after an independent check showed he and his wife -Abimbola – were still the directors of the firm registered on March 3, 2009, with registration number RC 804833.

One Gbadamasi Gbadamasi Clement is also listed as the company’s secretary.

“About five years ago, I had resigned my directorship. Yes, I founded the company 10 years ago. In 2019 and when I got to the House of Representatives, when I won the election precisely, I resigned. I resigned 4th of February 2019 with a Certified True Copy of Corporate Affairs Commission as far back as 2019 to prove this,” he said while showing a document to the anchor of the broadcast station.

TODAY POLITICS could not verify the document he tendered to buttress his claims as at the time of filling this report.

Continuing, he denied running the co-owned firm, let alone knowing about the executed contract involving the verification of 11 million homes in Nigeria under one month.

“I do not run the company. I don’t have any knowledge of the contract. I am not a signatory to any account. I am not a director of the company,” he claimed.

“The company is a limited liability company, which is a private entity. So if the company is a private entity, of course, I am still a shareholder, and to the best of my knowledge public service rule does not prohibit public officers from being shareholders.

“What public service rule says is that you cannot be a director, of which I had resigned about five years ago.

“I have no business with it, absolutely no business. Because I am not involved in the day-to-day running of the company. I do not pursue jobs for the company. I do not bid for the company. I am not a signatory to the company’s account. I am not involved.

“So the company is an entity on its own. If then, the question should be was the job given to the company? If the answer is yes. Then the question is did they follow due process? It is a yes. Did the company deliver on the job? If it’s a yes. Then number three is that they did deliver in line with the agreement of the contract? If it is a no, then they should be sanctioned by the book”.