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Tuesday, October 15

Constituency project: Court orders interim forfeiture of N116 million

Justice A. Muhammad of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday, granted an order for interim forfeiture of N116m alleged to be proceeds of crime linked to the non-execution of constituency projects awarded to Hamza Barau and Hamshakin Ventures Ltd.

The projects funded by the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria on behalf of some federal lawmakers, involved the provision of strategic empowerment programme in Akko, Gombe State.

It also includes the conduct of pilot seasonal intervention programme in Vandeikya/Konshisha, Benue State, provision of 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.

But the contractors, Barau and Hamshakin Ventures Ltd, failed to execute any of the projects after receiving money. Strangely, a certificate of job completion was issued by SMEDAN.

Investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission established that Barau and Hamshakin Ventures Ltd obtained the certificate of job completion by allegedly sharing the project funds with the legislators, whom the constituency projects were allotted to.

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

This was contained in a statement by the EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, in Abuja.

Prosecution counsel, Ekele Iheanacho, 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.

The statement read, “Following the interim forfeiture order, the court directed that a publication should 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.”

Justice Muhammed adjourned the matter till November 19.

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