The Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, has reacted to the seizure of a multi-million naira property in Abuja traced to him by anti-graft agency, ICPC.
The commission had last week accused Mr Mohammed of illegally allocating a property belonging to the federal ministry of agriculture for his personal use while he was minister of the FCT.
The ICPC said the property located at Plot 298 Wuye District, Cadastral Zone B3, FCT, Abuja, was subsequently turned into a school; Zinaria International School, in which the governor and family members are directors and shareholders.
According to the commission, the seizure is pursuant to its powers contained in Section 45 (4) (a-c) of the Corrupt Practices Act, 2000.
The Commission also said it will apply to the court for an order of forfeiture under Section 48 of the ICPC Act, “pending when the tenure of the governor expires.”
But in reaction, Mr Mohammed in a statement signed by his spokesperson, Mukhtar Gidado, on Sunday, said he did not break any law that could have warranted the ICPC to have “perniciously scandalise” his image.
He said he had resigned from the school as soon as he was appointed a minister.
The governor described the commission’s claims of him taking advantage of public office as mischievous, false and misleading.
Mr Mohammed said the ICPC’s action was “premised on bare-faced double standards, favouritism, dishonourable tactics and impunity.”
He said the school was in existence before he became minister of FCT during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
He said the school was allocated the land legitimately after its shareholders and directors applied for an expansion of its land.
“We refute the commission’s story in its entirety and state that Senator Bala Mohammed did not flout any policy or break any law, known to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, or did he, in any way, breach his oath of office to warrant perniciously scandalising his name or subjecting members of his family to mindless persecution as the ICPC is willfully pushing,” Mr Gidado said.
“Zinaria International School was established and had been long operational, offering quality education, in a cost-effective manner, to all and sundry, long before Senator Bala Mohammed became Minister of the FCT.
“Like any other corporate entity, due to planned expansion, the school applied for land, a legitimate right it would have exercised, irrespective of whomsoever was the Minister of the FCT at the time.
“The shareholders and directors of the school are Nigerians who, by their respective ages, were qualified to apply for and be allocated land if they met the conditions required.
“And we make bold to say that all the names listed in the MEMAT (Draft Memorandum and Articles of Association) of the school are eminently qualified to be allocated land.”
“Why is the ICPC in a hurry to disrupt the smooth functioning of a public trust that is devoted to learning, if not for the singular purpose of ingratiating itself to its paymasters by causing maximum damage to the family’s investment?
“Is it fair, right or just to deny members of the family of a public office holder their right to the public good, for the simple reason that their benefactor or relation is holding public office?”
Mr Mohammed served as FCT minister between 2010 and 2015. He has since been facing various corruption charges and prosecution for alleged graft during his time as FCT minister.
The EFCC last year charged the former minister on six-count for accepting gratification and acquisition of landed property.
The EFCC said the property is valued at N550 million – located at No 2599 and 2600 Cadastral Zone, AO4 Asokoro District, Abuja, from Aso Savings and Loans Plc in 2014.
Mr Mohammed is also accused of failing to make full disclosure of his property on 54, Mike Akhigbe Street, Jabi, Abuja, in the course of filing his asset declaration form at the EFCC.
Similarly, the ICPC had earlier charged him for using his office to confer corrupt advantage upon himself and relations under Section 19 of the ICPC law.