Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, has said the agency recovered 301 houses from two public officers in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
The revelation came at the inauguration of the House of Representatives adhoc Committee on Investigation of the Operations of Real Estate Developers, yesterday.
The ICPC chairman said while 241 buildings were recovered from one of the suspects at different locations within the FCT, the remaining 60 were recovered on a large expanse of land at another location.
Owasanoye, who did not disclose the names of the affected civil servants, lamented the alarming rate at which corrupt public officers were using real estate investment as a vehicle for hiding ill-gotten wealth and money laundering in the country.
He, however, accused officials of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) as collaborators in the scam.
According to him, “Public officers acquire estates in pseudonyms to conceal the illegal origin of funds. This is made possible by the absence of proper documentation, the registration of titles to land and estates in the country, and the non-enforcement of beneficial ownership standards.
“A tour round Abuja, especially the metropolis and the Central Area, would show a lot of estates that are built up but empty. If they had been constructed with funds that were borrowed at market rates, I don’t think any investor would leave such proprieties empty.
“One way or the other, they would put them to use. So, it is suspected that some of those estates have been used to launder ill-gotten public funds.”
He revealed that the agency recovered a total of N53,968,158,974.64 after completing the task of the defunct Special Presidential Investigation Panel on recovery of public property in collaboration with the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) to investigate some real estate developers who defaulted in remittance and payment of money due to the government.
He added that the agency received a number of petitions from stakeholders in the real estate and housing sector, off-takers, prospective buyers and the general public regarding the behaviour and antics of real estate developers within and outside Abuja.
Credit: The Guardian