How did a contractor with the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria, SMEDAN, get a certificate of completion for a job that was not done?
Well, Justice A.R. Muhammad of Federal High Court, Abuja, will hlp unravel this mystery, but for now, he has granted an order for interim forfeiture of N116m alleged proceeds of crime linked to the non- execution of constituency projects awarded to Hamza Barau and Hamshakin Ventures Ltd and funded by SMEDAN on behalf of some federal law makers.
The judge gave the order this Monday.
The constituency projects, according to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC, 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.
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.
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 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.
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 favor of the federal government.
Justice Muhammed adjourned the matter till November 19, 2019.