Following the ongoing investigations into scandals in the ministry, the passports of the suspended Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu, and her predecessor, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, have been seized.
The travelling documents were seized by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
A reliable source in the EFCC said the passports of Edu and the former Minister were seized to deter them from fleeing the country while the investigation continued.
“The commission has seized the passports of the two former ministers, Sadiya Umar-Farouq and Betta Edu.
“We have also seized Mrs Halima Shehu’s passport pending the conclusion of investigations. The commission does not want to risk having any of them leave the country while they still have questions to answer,” he said.
The scandal involving Edu burst open after a leaked memo revealed that the suspended minister directed the Accountant-General of the Federation, Oluwatoyin Madein, to transfer N585 million to a private account owned by one Oniyelu Bridget, who the ministry claimed serves as the Project Accountant, Grants for Vulnerable Groups.
The minister had claimed the money was meant for vulnerable groups in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ogun, and Lagos states, describing the allegations against her as baseless.
Following the uproar from Nigerians, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu ordered Edu’s comprehensive probe and investigation of the ministry’s activities.
On Tuesday, Edu honoured the EFCC invitation, and she was subjected to marathon interrogation by investigators.
It was learnt that detectives took away her personal and official passports, and she was barred from travelling out of the country.
On her part, Umar-Farouq, the former Minister under then President Muhammadu Buhari, was also quizzed over alleged fraud committed under her watch.
Umar-Farouq, was quizzed for 12 hours on Monday concerning the probe into the N37.1 billion allegedly laundered during her tenure in office through a contractor, James Okwete.
The ex-minister’s passport was also seized as part of her bail conditions before she was subsequently released late Monday night.
“The commission has seized the passports of the two ministers, Sadiya Shehu and Betta Edu. We have also seized Mrs Halima Shehu’s passport pending the conclusion of investigations. The commission does not want to risk having any of them leave the country while they still have questions to answer,” a source revealed.