When President Goodluck Jonathan, upon assumption of office as President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria tampered with the cabinet he inherited from the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, one of the new addition to the new cabinet was the then relatively unknown Senator Bala Mohammed, then a serving senator.
It was rumoured at that time that the Senate actually arm twisted President Jonathan to include one of them in his new cabinet and the lot fell of Bala Mohammed, who was fortunate to be saddled with the FCT portfolio as the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, a position that confers on him the unofficial status of a mini governor. This position comes with the responsibility of being the chief host of the federal government and numerous Nigerians from different states, ethnic groups and regions that make up the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Ideally, the occupant of the office of the FCT minister is expected to be a detribalized Nigerian on the account that the FCT is a melting point for all Nigerians and as has come to be known, the Centre of Unity, uniting Nigerians from every part. At least, that was the dream of the founding fathers of Abuja.
Senator Bala Mohammed, born on 5th October, 1958 at Duguri Town in Alkaleri Local Government Area of Bauchi State, attended Duguri Primary School, Bauchi, Government Secondary School Bauchi, North – East College of Art and Science for his Advanced Level Certificate and University of Maiduguri. He began his career as a journalist and rose to the position of News Editor of the Mirage Newspaper, Jos. He left his promising journalism career for the civil service when he got employed as an Administrative officer under the Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs, Abuja.
Bala Mohammed was elected Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on April 21, 2007 to represent Bauchi South Senatorial District until his appointment as the Hon Minister of Federal Capital Territory in April 2010.
How well has Senator Bala Mohammed performed on the job in more than three years that he has held forth for President Jonathan as FCT minister? Has he been able to perform the role of chief host to Nigerians of different ethnic nationalities? What development has he brought to the different area councils in the FCT and the litany of suburbs that make up the Centre of Unity?
Paparazzi Magazine, your number one political tabloid, in our usual manner went to town to investigate and feel the pulse of the residents of the FCT and present to you our findings on the performance or otherwise of Senator Bala Mohammed, the emperor and lord of the manor of the territory called Abuja. What we got is as damning as damn can be.
Fleecing FCT Residents
Paparazzi investigation reveal that there is so much fleecing of residents of Abuja going on under Senator Bala Mohammed at the moment. Residents of Abuja are said to be taken advantage of daily in different ways. One of such ways is the Park and Pay regime that currently holds on different roads in the capital city. According to a source in Abuja, the Park and Pay is not in any way transparent and it is seen by many as just a ploy to generate money for private pockets. “You can go around and find out from people in the FCT about the Park and Pay dockets they are issued. How are they accounted for? Who are the people behind it? There are so many things going on at the moment that are not clear to people. Senator Bala Mohammed has been feeding fat on FCT residents. Have you stopped to ask yourself why those in charge of the Park and Pay clamp your car and tow it away if you overstay, whereas they can simply allow you to pay the balance of the time you used? It is because they want more money to go to the pockets of their principal, which is the office of the FCT minister”.
The inconveniences associated with the system are better imagined than experienced. The administration of the FCT says it needs the ‘park n pay’ system as an avenue for revenue generation; but motorists in the Abuja metropolis disagree with its mode of operation.
Abuja motorists are expected to pay fees ranging from N50 to N100 to park on designated streets from 30 minutes upwards. Defaulters are slammed with N5, 000 penalty. Cars are clamped (locked) and the fine is expected to be paid by those who have paid the initial money but over stayed for 20 to 30 minutes.
One of the victims of the parking system, narrating his ordeal said he called the telephone lines pasted on his car after his number plate had been removed for contravening the ‘park and pay’ rule more than eight times with no single response, explaining that he had to drive home without the number plates.
Another complained that the parking permit being sold by the companies is exploitative because the areas it covers are not specified in the card, and people assume that it covers all districts of the FCT.
Chairman, Stetson Group of Companies, Mr. Steve Olaye, expressed displeasure about the way the FCT authorities are running the ‘park n pay’ regime, noting that it is against norms of decency and respect for the fundamental human rights of the people in the capital city.
His words, “It was on June 12, at about 1 o’ clock in the afternoon. I had an appointment with the head of security at the NNPC, tower and I parked in the facility and a lady told me that if I was going to stay an hour, I should pay N100 and I paid N200 in case I stayed longer; after paying they gave me a ticket to display it on my car and I went in for the meeting. By the time I came out of the meeting the time was about 4pm”.
He continued, “I discovered that my number plates were no longer there and I made enquiries about who took the number plates and the people around said it might be that I had spent more time than I paid for . I looked for the individual so I could pay for the extra time that I stayed but I couldn’t locate her.
“Now the truth is that I had to drive my car to my house in Utako without the plate numbers with series of challenges on the way. The police pulled me over at the Berger Roundabout asking me why I was driving the vehicle without number plates and I complained to them that it was the parking attendant that took my number plates.
“When I got to their office, I saw Nigerians who were subjected to unnecessary and appalling treatments. There was a guy whose number plates they took and he could not go back to Kaduna because they asked for N5, 000, which he could not pay because he had only had N2, 500 with him. Why should we go through the torture?
“This is extortion. I lived in the US for years, you pay parking ticket; if for any reason you exceed your time you pay for the added time that you used and not the removal of your number plates. Number plates are very sensitive; they are attached to your name. If for any reason they take your number plates and commit a crime, it is you who owns the number plates that will be held responsible”.
Looting Abuja Blind
One of the many charges levelled against one time minister of the FCT, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai was that he sold choice landed properties to himself, family and friends and so much noise has been made about that. However, el-Rufai’s case maybe a child’s play when the searchlight is eventually beamed on the tenure of Senator Bala Mohammed as FCT minister, as sources say he has been busy buying up Abuja for himself.
The looting of the collective treasury belonging to the federal union of Nigeria has continued to enjoy a celebrated silence inside the corridors of power of the Federal Capital Territory [FCT] Abuja as the Minister of the FCT Abuja jamborees on the sudden wealth gotten through the illegal revocation of land from common citizens for sale to highly placed politicians –in return for quiet but handsome payday. Information available to us through sources within the FCT Minister’s office indicates that Senator Bala Mohammed has re-baptized the office of the Minister of FCT Abuja to a private looting affair for his family members and friends.
Prior to Senator Bala Mohammed’s accession to the seat of FCT Minister, the conditions around his friends and immediate family reflected an upper middle-class standing on a financial status – under the Nigerian financial rating scale. His brother, Multakar was unemployed and idle, one of his other brothers, Bappah Muhammed, who is presently a staff at the Central Bank of Nigeria [CBN] was idle, another of his brother, Adamu Yahaya [elder brother] was a former customs officer who was financially weak, and the younger brother to his [Bala Mohammed] wife was unemployed and idle. The recently sacked Chief of State to the FCT, Musa Umar Yashi- did not own a property in Abuja FCT. But all that has changed.
With merely a few years at the top of the affairs at the FCT Ministry, the financial conditions took a rapid change – the type that should arouse the investigative attention of the economic and financial crimes commission [EFCC] and other graft agencies.
On the first level, the brother presently employed as a staff at the CBN is reported to have since erected an estate in Bauchi within the span of time that Senator Bala Mohammed became the FCT Minister. The estate, according to the source, is called Gubi Housing Estate. Multakar, the unemployed idle brother without an income is reported to have also erected a ‘mini’ estate in Fadan Mada located opposite the former deputy governor’s house. Adamu Yahaya, the former custom officer, recently purchased a house in Bauchi from the former Speaker of the Bauchi State of Assembly at the price tag of N70million. Bala Mohammed’s wife’s younger brother, on his part, has since become the owner six standard mega filling stations in Bauchi State.
The Personal Assistant to the FCT Minister, Bala Gar, also partook in the looting jamboree. He recently purchased a home valued N60million in Bauchi metropolis.
But none of the symptoms of the looting jamborree quite presents itself boldly as the broad day actions of the recently sacked Chief of Staff, Musa Umar Yashi. Authoritative information at our disposal reveals that Musa Yashi who was the closest associate of the FCT Minister had engaged and executed many of the shady deals for the FCT Minister. The Chief of Staff was reported to be the Minister’s point man.
The FCT Minister’s point-man recently completed the purchase of a N1.1billion house in Maitama Abuja at 36 Maideira Crescent. In addition to the exorbitant price paid for Maitama house, a recent in-house investigation turned up N7billion discovered hidden in the Access Bank account of the Chief of Staff. The outcome of the said in-house investigation remains unknown. But the Minister to the FCT was reported to have sacked the Chief of Staff following what insiders with the Minister’s office indicate was the result of the excesses of political baggage weighing on the person of the Chief of Staff. In essence, the Chief of Staff was becoming too ‘dirty’ for the image of the FCT Minister who is said to be prepping for the gubernatorial race in Bauchi State come 2015.
The FCT Minister, on his part, has been caught with his hand in the kitty on numerous occasions – as he has clandestinely managed illegal revocation of lands in FCT Abuja from innocent would-be homeowners.
A Troubled Home Front
For a man of Senator Bala Mohammed standing, it is expected that he will have a good control of his home and direct his children to a God fearing path. But tales coming our way suggest the opposite, as Bala’s boys are said to be somewhat offline.
A source close to the Bala Mohammed household revealed to this magazine that one of his boys, who is an undergraduate at the American University in Yola, the Adamawa State capital has no qualms flaunting his father’s wealth with state of the art exotic cars which he frequently changes. He is said to flaunt cars like Aston Martin and Lamborghini among several others.
Also sometime in 2011, Shamsudeen Bala Mohammed, the 28 year old son of the FCT minister was said to have crushed 22-year-old Mark Musa to death along Shehu Musa Yar’adua Expressway, opposite National Health Insurance Scheme headquarters. Instead of facing prosecution, the FCT minister, Bala Mohammed, we were told, used his influence to make the case disappear while his 28 year old son walks free.
The grand cover up started when the minister directed that the wrecked posh car which was dumped at the Utako police station be made to varnish. The minister became very uncomfortable when a newspaper published the photo of the car last April.
The police turned a blind eye to a clear case of vehicular manslaughter. Arrow head of the cover up was said to be the Divisional Police officer (DPO) for Utako, Usman Umar who had before the tragedy benefited immensely from the generosity of the FCT minister. Though Shamsudeen came out of the car with minor injury, Anwal, his friend and co-occupant of the car was not that lucky as he died an hour later at Zankli hospital, from head injuries.
Harsh Words from Bauchi
Meanwhile the political climate at his home constituency in Bauchi South Senatorial District appears to be heating up to problematic levels. One of the elder statesmen of the state commented bitterly on the activities of the FCT Minister and described them as wanting.
Speaking to our correspondent in Abuja, Alhaji Usman Buzaye stated that as a Senator from Bauchi South, who was elected through the influence of Governor Yuguda, the FCT Minister failed to give the electorates the desired representation that attracted an attempt to recall him and as a minister, he has woefully failed to make his impact felt in both the FCT and the north-east sub-region that he represents in the federal executive council.
In his words, “FCT Minister has brought shame and disappointment to many of Yuguda’s supporters who voted him to the senate against a more credible candidate, Ahmadu Adamu Mu’azu. We have regretted voting for Bala Muhammed and we shall not repeat that mistake again. And as an FCT Minister, he has brought more hatred to the Jonathan administration than love and support despite the efforts of the President to achieve his transformation agenda“.
Buzaye added that the only achievement of the FCT Minister in the open is his determination to enrich members of his family and those of his wives against service delivery to the FCT residents. In his words, “He has succeeded in enriching his family members through allocation of choice plots of land in the FCT and awarded several mouth watering contracts to his cronies and miscreants some of which were not executed but paid for. He is our son but he has disgraced the past heroes of the state who laboured for the progress of Nigeria”
Source: Paparazzi Press