By Chris Steven, Abuja
Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed, former minister of the Federal Capital Territory, has alleged that his political opponents are currently using media trial and other trumped up charges against him to make him to drop his governor ship ambition for Bauchi State.
He particularly made reference to the reports alleging the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, last Wednesday, gave the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, the nod to take possession of his 14 choice properties in Abuja.
In a statement issued in Abuja on Monday, by Emma Agu, his media aide, Bala Mohammed also said that the trial of his son, Shamsudeen is also part of the desperate efforts by those he called his political detractors to “nail him at all cost”, noting that “the so-called temporary forfeiture order amounts to unduly sensationalizing a matter that is yet to run its full judicial course.
According to him, he has not been indicted for stealing any money and that there is no record that the FCT is looking for any missing funds.
“In the past one year, Senator Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed, former minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, has been subjected to the most vicious campaign of calumny characterized by deliberate falsehood, misrepresentations and media harassments, ostensibly on account of allegations against him; allegations that are neither true nor have been confirmed by any court of competent jurisdiction.
“To start with, how many times will the former minister forfeit exactly the same properties? It is a well-known fact that between his arraignment which was widely reported and today, the matter is yet to run its full course.”
Therefore, the issue of forfeiture cannot arise in a matter that is being diligently prosecuted and rigorously contested or defended.
Recall that Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Abuja, was reported to have granted the interim forfeiture order based on a motion ex-parte the anti-graft agency filed through its lawyer, Mr. Ben Ikani.
The reports claimed that aside ordering interim forfeiture of the properties, Justice Dimgba equally ordered EFCC to publish in a national daily and on its website, inviting all persons/bodies who may have interest in the properties to show cause why the said properties should not be permanently forfeited to the federal government.
The reports claimed that the EFCC is prosecuting the former Minister and his son, Shamsudeen, on alleged separate corruption charges bordering on abuse of office and money laundering. It said while the ex-Minister is answering to a six-count criminal charge before an Abuja high court at Gudu, his son on the other hand is facing 15-count money laundering charge before the Federal High Court.
But senator Mohammed said his score-card for having served the country well as FCT minister under the Former President Goodluck Jonathan is there for all to see.
He said he is “used to these battles and will never be intimidated by the on-going smear campaign because he “has never demurred from the understanding that a day of reckoning will come for every public office holder, past, present or future and that a clear conscience fears no accusation.”
The statement said, “We do not want to be misunderstood. Our position on this matter has been stated without any equivocation; that Senator Bala Mohammed supports the current anti-graft campaign which is a carry-over of the effort of previous administrations.
“However, this should never be applied as a licence for scurrilous charges against people or for media conviction of the accused.
“In the present case, some of the houses in contention do not belong to Senator Bala Mohammed. Yet, it is misleading to suggest that their owners do not exist. In at least one instance, the property has been returned to the rightful owner while others have initiated steps to recover their properties that were wrongly seized by the EFCC.
“It is in this context that we consider it a gross abuse of professional privilege on the part of the media to deny the public of these facts for the simple reason that it has been hoodwinked into joining desperadoes labouring to salvage a faltering campaign of calumny.”
The statement also said that as Nigerians, while Senator Mohammed has the right to acquire and/or own property anywhere in the country, his son who he said is a 31-year-old Nigerian businessman and an aeronautical engineer has the right to engage in legitimate business of his choice.
“Unfortunately, Bala Mohammed’s adversaries have taken their desperation to the point of subjecting his son, Shamsudeen, to undeserved searchlight as if he is the only person whose father was a minister. For the avoidance of doubt, Shamsudeen, a 31-year-old Nigerian businessman, is an aeronautical engineer, a husband and a father who, like any other Nigerian, has the right to engage in legitimate business of his choice.
“He has not held any public office whether in the FCT or any other place; he never benefitted from any contract in the FCT and never tried to influence the business of the FCT under the tenure of Senator Bala Mohammed.
“His only crime is that he is the son of Bala Mohammed. Besides, it is also important to challenge and debunk the unsustainable impression being created that Senator Bala Mohammed does not have the right to acquire and/or own property anywhere in Nigeria.
“To make heavy weather of his ownership of some houses is mischievous and completely untenable….That being so, the persecutors of the former FCT minister should explain the desperate effort to “nail” him at all cost.
“The statement equally said that Senator Mohammed “avows solemnly that he never stole any money while he was minister and therefore has not returned or refunded any monies to the Federal Government. He challenges anybody with evidence of such a refund to come forward with it or let his adversaries shut their mouths henceforth.”
“What even makes the demonization of the minister particularly untenable is that, so far, there is no record of any loss of funds at the FCT under his tenure. “He has not been indicted for stealing any money; and there is also no record that the FCT is looking for any missing funds.