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The Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday ordered an interim forfeiture of 14 properties in “choice areas” of Abuja which were allegedly traced to the immediate past Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mr. Bala Mohammed, and his son, Shamsuddeen.
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba granted the interim forfeiture order upon an ex parte application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The judge also granted an order “directing the publication of a notice” in a newspaper and the EFCC’s website “inviting all persons/bodies who may have interest in the said properties to show cause why the said properties should not be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
The EFCC’s lawyer, Mr. Ben Ikani, while applying for the court orders on Wednesday, said, “We have an ex parte application for an interim order of forfeiture. The motion is dated September 6, 2017 and filed the same day. We are also praying for an order directing the publication of the notice in a newspaper. The list of the properties is in the schedule attached.”
Justice Dimgba granted the order prayed by the EFCC.
The EFCC had stated in the ex parte motion that both the ex-FCT Minister, Mohammed, and his son “have denied ownership and connection” traced to them.
But the commission maintained that “preliminary investigation has revealed that the properties listed on the schedule are unlawfully acquired through corrupt practices by the former minister and his son while in office as the minister of the Federal Capital Territory.”
The properties, according to the EFCC, included one “mansion” located at Sunrise Estate, Asokoro, Abuja.
They also included three sets of four-bedroomed semi-detached duplex at Green Acres Estate, Apo-Dutse, Abuja.
Also allegedly linked to the two suspects were two sets of four-bedroomed fully detached duplexes each with a boys’ quarters on Gana Street, Maitama, Abuja, a trekable distance to Transcorp Hilton Hotel Abuja.
Also listed as part of the properties was a four-bedroomed detached duplex with boys’ quarter located at 9 Platinum Luxury Home, White Estate, Asokoro, Abuja.
Title documents attached to the EFCC’s application described some of the facilities in some of properties to include, “excellent road and drainage network; dedicated transformer; borehole for constant water supply; fitted kitchen, bedroom cabinet and wardrobes; ample parking space; and children playing ground.”
The rest of the properties are plots of land in six different locations in Abuja.
The plots of land were said to be located at Karasana West, Abuja, measuring 84,657.30m2; Industrial Area 1 Extension, Abuja, measuring 1.45Ha; and Guzape, Abuja measuring 2.7Ha.
Others were located at Industrial Area 1 Extension, Abuja, measuring 1.26Ha; Karasana West, Abuja measuring 64,507m2; and Dakibiyu, Abuja measuring 1,251.15m2.
Before Wednesday, the EFCC had previously seized some sets of properties from Mohammed and his son.
Already, the EFCC is prosecuting the former minister before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Gudu, Abuja, on six corruption-related charges, and his son, Shamsuddeen, before the Federal High Court, Abuja, on 15 counts of money laundering and failure to declare some assets.
The charges against Shamsuddeen involve about N1.1bn.
But the EFCC stated in its fresh application that “the crux of this application is that the respondents are being investigated for offences bordering on abuse of office, fraudulent land scams, corruption and corrupt practices, money laundering and diversion of revenue of government while being the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.”
It also stated that the properties traced to the father and son were “reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities and crimes, kept and concealed in the names and proxies and nominees of the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Senator Bala Mohmmed, and his son, Shamsuddeen Bala Mohammed and for their benefit have been recovered and seized.”
According to the EFCC, the properties were held in the names of different companies and one Maimuna S. Aliyu.
The commission described Aliyu as Bala’s proxy allegedly used to the houses 1A and 2A of No. 7 Gana Street Maitama, Abuja.
The companies in whose names some of the properties were said to be held are Intertrans Global Logistics/Bird Trust Agro-allied Limited, Gal Vac Mining Limited, and Diakin Telecommunication Limited.
Giving the details of its investigation, the EFCC maintained that the former minister and his sons are the owners of the of Diakin Telecommunications Ltd., Bal-Vac Mining Ltd., Bird Trust Nigeria Ltd. and Intertrans Global Logistics Ltd., and Intertrans Global Logistics Ltd. in whose names some of the properties were acquired.
The commission also alleged that Bala, while still being the FCT minister appointed one Jemila Tangaza as Special Assistant and, thereafter, Director of Abuja Geographic Information System (A018) “to facilitate fraudulent allocations of plots of land to her and her proxies and nominees in choice areas.”
The commission alleged that the plots of lands were sold and their “proceeds laundered in the acquisition of some these houses like House No 9 Plantinurn White Estate Abuja, acquired in the name of Mohammed Musa.”
It said Intertrans Global Logistics Ltd. was linked to the son of the former minister, Shamsuddeen.
The affidavit filed in support of the forfeiture application partly read, “That investigation revealed that the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Senator Bala Mohammed and his son are owners and beneficiaries of Diakin Telecommunications Ltd., which they used to acquire house FS1A, Green Acres Estate, Apo-Dutse, Abuja, and No. FS1B Green Acres Estate, Apo-Dutse, Abuja, while Senator Bala Mohammed was Minister of Federal Capital Territory. Copy of sales agreement between Abuja Investment Company Limited with Diakin Telecommunication Ltd. in respect of houses at FS1A and FS1Bis hereby annexed and marked as exhibits EFCC A1 and 2.
“That investigation equally reveals that former Minister of Federal Capital Territory Abuja, Senator Bala Mohammed and his son uses the company known as Diakin Telecommunication Ltd. to corruptly acquire Plot N0; 32 Cadastral Zone D06 Karsana West, Abuja; Plot 1420 Cadastral Zone B10, Dakibiyu and Plot 1261 Cadastral Zone C16 Industrial Area 1 Extension Abuja. Copies of C of O dated 11/6/2013, 06/04/2013 and 06/09/2014 issued by the FCT Minister in the name of Diakin Telecommunication Ltd. is hereby annexed and marked as exhibit EFCC A3, 4 &5 respectively.”