Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday grilled a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Sen. Bala Mohammed, in connection with alleged N1billion fictitious contracts.
Mohammed was also questioned on alleged allocation of 12 choice plots to his son, 37 other commercial plots of land worth about N8billion to his suspected front, Tariq Hammoud, and the controversial N1trillion Abuja land swap.
A mansion believed to be worth N782million, allegedly belonging to the ex-minister, has been placed under Interim Assets Forfeiture.
Mohammed, who arrived at the EFCC headquarters around 9.50am, was immediately ushered into interrogation room.
Although Mohammed was quizzed for about nine hours, there were strong indications that the former minister might be detained.
Before the ex-minister responded to the invitation of the anti-graft agency, others who had been interrogated were his son, Shamsudeen Bala; Shamsudeen, Hammoud, and top directors of the Federal Capital Territory Administration, including those of Treasury, Ibrahim Bomoi; Land, Babayo Mainasara, and Abuja Geographical Information Service (AGIS), Ms Jamila Tangaza.
A top source, who spoke in confidence, said:
“We have questioned him for about nine hours and he is likely to be detained for some days because of the many allegations he would respond to.
“Some of these issues had been with the commission in the last three, year. Initial findings showed that the ex-minister used fictitious companies to award contracts worth N1billion in FCT. In one instance, a man with three companies was allowed to bid for one slot.
“About 16 companies used for fictitious contracts are under investigation because they did not supply items credited to them.
“He was also alleged to have allocated plots of land to his friends, business partners. For examples, he allocated 12 plots of land to his son, Shamsudeen and 37 commercial plots of land to his business front called Tariq Hammoud.
“Some of those quizzed so far confessed that Bala allegedly used unconventional methods in raking illicit funds and laundering same. Each time the ex-minister allocated a plot of land, he will find out the market value and ask you to pay half of the amount to him in cash.
“He was smart in collecting cash.
The source added that EFCC detectives have uncovered how 37 commercial plots were allocated to Hammoud with about N8billion raked from the deal.
“In fact, we saw a proposal by Tariq Hammoud to sell some of the plots,” the source said.