Court grants interim forfeiture of N116m in constituency projects scam

Justice A.R. Muhammad of Federal High Court, Abuja, Monday, granted an order for interim forfeiture of N116 million alleged proceeds of crime linked to the non- execution of constituency projects awarded to Hamza Barau and Hamshakin Ventures Ltd and funded by the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) on behalf of some federal law makers.

A press statement by EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, Monday in Abuja, said: “The constituency projects involved the provision of Strategic Empowerment Programme in Akko, Gombe state; conduct of Pilot Seasonal Intervention Programme in Vandeikya/Konshisha, Benue state; provision of Strategic Empowerment Programme in Katsina-Ala/Logo/Ukum, Benue state; Intervention Programme for Ailing Enterprises in Vaneikya/Konshisha, Benue state; and the supply of motorcycles in Kiyawa, Jigawa state.

He said the contractor, Hamza Barau, and Hamshakin Ventures Ltd failed to execute any of the projects after receiving payment, and strangely a certificate of Job Completion was issued by SMEDAN.

According to him, “Investigation by the EFCC, established that Hamza Barau and Hamshakin Ventures Ltd were able to earn certificate of job completion by sharing the project funds with the legislators, whom the constituency projects were allotted to.

“The legislators include: Hon. Herman Hembe, Hon. Benjamin Aboho, Hon. Udende Emmanuel and Hon. Orker-Jev. Others are Hon. Abubarkar Mahmud Wambai and Hon. Anthony Madawatte.”

The spokesperson said EFCC ex-parte motion for an order of interim forfeiture of the sum, dated August 8, 2019 was filed on August 22, 2019, pursuant to Section 44(2) of the Constitution of The Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and Section 17 of Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act No, 14, 2006.

He said the Prosecution Counsel, Ekele E. Iheanacho, had told the court that the funds sought to be forfeited were reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities and prayed the court to grant the prayer of the commission.

“Following the interim forfeiture order, the court directed that a publication be made by the Commission in any national newspaper requesting anyone who is interested in the funds sought to be forfeited to show cause within 21 days, why the forfeiture of the fund should not be made in favour of the federal government,” Uwujaren said.

He said Justice Muhammed adjourned the matter till November 19, 2019.

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