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The Federal High Court in Abuja has granted an order for interim forfeiture of N116 million linked to Hamza Barau and Hamshakin Ventures Ltd, as part of constituency projects funded by the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria, (SMEDAN) on behalf of some federal lawmakers.

In a statement on Monday, the EFCC said Mr Barau and the firm failed to execute any of the constituency projects after receiving part payment for it.

At least N200 billion has been ‘injected’ into various Nigerian communities in the past years to implement ‘constituency projects’ proposed by federal lawmakers.

Constituency projects, otherwise known as the zonal intervention projects by lawmakers, have been widely criticised as a drainpipe employed to orchestrate fraud in the budgeting process, and surreptitiously funnel pubic funds into the pockets of legislators.

The ICPC had in early 2019 seized various equipment procured by taxpayers money that were diverted by these legislators.

The EFCC in its statement said a certificate of job completion was issued by SMEDAN without the suspect actually completing the job.

According to the Commission, a judge, A.R. Muhammad gave the order following an ex-parte motion filed in the pursuant to Section 44(2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and other related Offenses Act No 14, 20006.

The commission said: ”the constituency projects involved the provision of Strategic Empowerment Programme in Akko, Gombe State, the conduct of Pilot Seasonal Intervention Programme in Vandeikya/Konshisha, Benue State.

”The 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.”

Prosecution counsel, Ekele E. Iheanacho, had reportedly 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”.

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Mr Muhammed, therefore, adjourned the matter till November 19.

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