The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has seized about 12 properties from a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Senator Bala Mohammed, and his son, Shamsudeen Bala. This is as regards ongoing investigations into controversial land deals carried out by the minister between 2010 and 2015. The deals have been valued at over N1 Trillion.
According to the EFCC, “So far, we have seized about 12 properties from Bala Mohammed and his son, who he used in buying many properties. However, this is just a tip of the iceberg because we found out that there are still a lot of properties to be recovered.
“After investigations, we will arraign Bala (ex-minister) before an FCT High Court while his son will be arraigned before a Federal High Court anytime from now.
“We have evidence that the ex-minister diverted funds from Internally Generated Revenue. He also gave land arbitrarily to friends without following due process. Some of the land had even been allocated to other people but seized from them unjustly.”
Already, the commission has grilled a former Chairman of Skye Bank, Tunde Ayeni, who was also the Chairman of ASO Savings & Loans Plc over the purchase of the N7.5bn ASO Grove Estate at the Maitama area of Abuja by the bank through the ex-minister.
A detective in the EFCC alleged that the former minister was also a front for Mrs. Patience Jonathan, the wife of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.
As FCT minister, Mohammed revoked the 1.84 hectares of land allocated to Yar’Adua’s wife, which was meant for her organisation, Women and Youth Empowerment Foundation.
The ex-minister then allocated the land to Patience for the construction of African First Ladies’ Peace Mission’s secretariat, stating that the move was in the interest of the public.
An FCT High Court, however, described the land grab as illegal and returned it to Mrs. Yar’Adua.
Patience has since written a petition to the House of Representatives, accusing the EFCC of harassing her and her associates.
In an interview with journalists in 2015, the ex-minister denied abusing his office, stating that he was loyal to the Jonathan family and was only helping Patience with her African First Ladies’ Peace Mission’s project by providing her with free land.
He had said, “People say all sorts of things about my family: that I have stolen so and so billions; I have given plots of land to the first lady. People are always insinuating that the first lady has so much in the FCT and they are all lies.
“Most people talk this way because they want to see a situation to cause friction; an example is what happened with our support of the First Lady Mission.
“It is an African Union initiative. It is not personal to the first lady, it is a global initiative, but some highly-placed Nigerians were insinuating that we were taking FCT resources to service the first lady. It is not so.”