The Nigerian Coalition of Civil Society Organizations (NCCSO) has applauded President Bola Tinubu for approving the immediate suspension and investigation of the National Coordinator and CEO of the National Social Investment Programme Agency (NSIPA), Halima Shehu, over alleged financial impropriety.
The commendation came shortly after President Tinubu relieved Halima Shehu her position as NSIPA CEO on January 2, 2024, during a press conference addressed by the leader of NCCSO, Abimbola Ademola in Abuja.
Prior to this development, Halima Shehu was said to have made unapproved withdrawal of over N44 billion in collaboration with Director of Finance, Hamza Buwai.
An inside source at NSIPA had revealed to newsmen at the eve of 2024 that over N44 billion withdrawn from NSIPA coffers in the last 5 days by the National Coordinator and Director of Finance was without the approval of the President or the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
The source further stated that “the Director of Finance whose last day in office was 29th December 2023 is still presently moving government funds from the NSIPA account. Information reaching us from an insider in the accounts department stated that the accountant is notorious for such and is even presently indicted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for Monies embezzled in the last administration.
Addressing newsmen over President Tinubu’s suspension of Halima Shehu, the Coalition saluted the president for demonstrating zero tolerance to corruption or fraud in governance, stressing that his swift action will serve as a deterrent to other appointees that it is no more business as usual.
“Before now, we know President Tinubu does not tolerate corruption, we know he will not allow any appointee to set his renewed hope agenda back, so we are pleased that he not only suspended the National Coordinator of NSIPA but ordered investigation, people need to start paying for their deeds.
“This kind of approach is what we need and it is a clear sign that Mr President has zero tolerance for corruption, it is also a sign that it is not going to be business as usual, all ministers and appointees should take note,” Ademola stressed.
It will be recalled that, Halima Shehu oversaw the questionable disbursement of $322.5 million returned Abacha loot during her time as Coordinator of National Cash Transfer Office (NCTO), an exercise that was largely described by many Nigerians as “opaque”.
The Senate, had on 18th October 2023, confirmed the appointment of Halima Shehu as the new National Coordinator of NSIPA.
The suspended NSIPA boss was the National Coordinator of Conditional Cash Transfer during the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration and a close ally of the former Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, who is facing a probe over N37 billion allegedly laundered under her watch through a contractor, James Okwete.
Meanwhile, the former Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management in a short statement posted on her known X handle had dissociated herself from the contractor recently arrested over allegations of fraud and money laundering from the humanitarian ministry under Mrs Umar-Farouk’s watch.
She said in her tweet that the contractor, “James Okwete, was unknown to her and that his alleged association with her was spurious.”