The Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, has denied involvement in the N438.1 million consultancy contract between New Planet Project Limited and the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation.
The PUNCH reports that President Bola Tinubu, on Monday, directed the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ola Olukoyede, to investigate all financial transactions involving the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation.
Dr Betta Edu was the minister in charge of the ministry until the President suspended her on Monday.
The PUNCH reports that Edu came under criticism after a leaked memo on December 20, 2023, revealed that she directed the Accountant-General of the Federation, Oluwatoyin Madein, to transfer N585m to a private account owned by one Oniyelu Bridget, who the ministry claimed currently serves as the Project Accountant, Grants for Vulnerable Groups.
However, some sections of the media report that a company owned by the Minister of Interior was allegedly paid N438.1 million by Edu as consultancy services.
“The company, New Planet Project Limited was one of the numerous consultants awarded contracts from N3 billion given out by the suspended minister for the National Social Register contract,” it stated.
Reacting, Tunji-Ojo while appearing on Channels TV Politics Today, on Monday night revealed that he founded the company 10 years ago, but resigned from directorship in 2019 when he contested for House of Representatives.
The Minister of Interior, who described the report as shocking, said he is just a shareholder in the company and not involved in the day-to-day running of New Planet Project Limited.
He said “I have to say this, I saw it and I was shocked because the company in question was a company, where I was the director.
“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.”
Tunji-Ojo, who said he came into public office knowing fully well that Nigerians would ask questions, charged relevant agencies to probe the contract processes.
He added, “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.
“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”.