EFCC seizes N872m houses from ex-minister, son(Photo)

Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has seized four houses
worth N872 million from a former Minister of the Federal Capital
Territory, Sen. Bala Mohammed, and his son, Shamsudeen Bala.
The ex-minister is also under
investigation on alleged fictitious contracts of about N1billion,
allocation of 12 choice plots worth billions of naira and 37 other
commercial plots of land worth about N8 billion to his suspected front
named Tariq Hammoud as well as the controversial N1 trillion Abuja land
More than 16 companies linked with
fictitious contracts awarded by Bala had been under surveillance and
their owners grilled by EFCC.

The anti-graft agency  quizzed
Shamsudeen, Hammoud and top directors of the Federal Capital Territory
administration, including that of Treasury, Ibrahim Bomoi; Land, Babayo
Mainasara, and Abuja Geographical Information Service (AGIS), Ms Jamila
Tangaza, who had been in detention in the past one week, was battling for bail as at press time.
She has, however, been linked to N800
million questionable contracts to her personal firm apart from
benefiting from plots of land from the ex-minister.
According to investigations, the ongoing
probe of the ex-minister followed petitions against him, including
complaints  pending since 2013.
It was gathered that following
preliminary findings, EFCC obtained an interim forfeiture order to
confiscate a N650 million house at 1 and 3, Mariam Mukhtar Street,
The same forfeiture order was secured to
seize the ex-minister’s son three duplexes costing about N222 million
in the Apo Area of Abuja.
A top source in EFCC, who spoke in
confidence, said:
 “We are probing the immediate past Minister of FCT on
many allegations against him, including award of N1 billion fictitious
contracts; abuse of office by allocating 12 choice plots to his son and
37 other commercial plots worth about N8 billion to Hammoud, who is
suspected to be his front; land swap, among others.
“Some of the petitions against Bala
Mohammed had been pending since 2013. Initial findings showed that the
ex-minister used fictitious companies to award contracts worth N1
billion in FCT. In one instance, a man with three companies was allowed
to bid for one slot.
“About 16 companies used for fictitious contracts are under investigation because they did not supply items credited to them.
“We have also uncovered how Bala
allocated plots of land to his friends, business partners. For examples,
he allocated 12 plots of land to his son, Shamsudeen, and 37 commercial
plots of land to his business front called Tariq Hammoud.
“Some of those quizzed so far confessed
that Bala used unconventional methods in raking illicit funds and
laundering same. Each time the ex-minister allocated a plot of land, he
would find out the market value and ask you to pay half of the amount to
him in cash.
“For instance if a plot of land was N2
billion, Bala would ask for N1 billion cash from the prospective buyer.
He was smart in collecting cash.
“But the EFCC has traced allocation of
37 commercial plots to Hammoud and how N8billion was made from it. In
fact, we saw a proposal by Tariq Hammoud to sell some of the plots.
“So far, our operatives have arrested,
detained and quizzed Shamsudeen. He is presently on administrative bail.
We have also interrogated Hammoud.”
Responding to a question, the source
“Based on substantial findings, we approached the court to obtain
an interim forfeiture order to seize a N650million from the ex-FCT
“What happened was that the former
minister allocated some plots of land to Aso Savings and they bought the
N650 million house for him at Nos. 1 and 3, Mariam Mukhtar Street,
Asokoro District.
“The EFCC has confiscated three duplexes totalling N222million which were acquired by the ex-minister’s son.
On the fate of the ex-minister, the
source said:
 “We are investigating him, we are yet to invite him for
questioning. Certainly, we are closing in on him.”
The source added that  EFCC had grilled
top directors of the FCT administration. “As for Ms Jamila Tangaza, we
arrested and detained her because she was connected with the land scam
and abuse of office.
“The ex-minister asked her to resign her
appointment with BBC and appointed her as a Senior Special Assistant on
Media and Information. But Bala allocated some plots of land to her to
sell in order to acquire a mansion in Asokoro District too. Her house
was allegedly worth N158million.
“Also, Jamila allegedly abused her office by awarding N800million contracts to her company which is called Songbird Multimedia.
“Her case was interesting. When she
registered the company with the Corporate Affairs Commission, she used a
fictitious name as the CEO of the company but she is the sole signatory
to the company’s account and her phone number is the point of contact
with the firm.
“We have sent her signature on CAC
document and other specimen signatures collected from her to a forensic
laboratory. Following a court order, we detained her in the past few
days but as at Friday, she was pleading that we should grant her bail.
We are looking into her request.”
The top source denied insinuations that the ex-BBC correspondent was handcuffed when she was taken to her office for a search.
The source added: “You can verify from
her what transpired. From custody in EFCC, we went with her to her
office to recover some documents. We used the EFCC bus but along the
way, she begged us to park the bus away from the vicinity of AGIS where
she is a director. She did not want her staff and others to notice that
she was brought to the office by EFCC team.
“We obliged her request by parking
outside AGIS. We also didn’t allow policemen in uniform to follow her to
the office. We assigned plain-clothe operatives and even asked her if
she wanted the only lady in our team to follow her so that Jamila can
blend with the crowd in AGIS without anyone suspecting anything.
“She said all plain clothe operatives
can follow her. We did not put her in handcuffs. This is the extent we
went based on her request to protect her reputation and integrity. The
story of Jamila being handcuffed was rubbish.”

The Nation

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