LAHORE - A National Accountability Court on Tuesday extended for ten days physical of former Lahore Development Authority (LDA) chairman Ahad Khan Cheema and three others in Ashiyana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme scam.

NAB officials produced the accused including Ahad Khan Cheema, Shahid Shafique, Bilal Qadwai and Imtiaz Haider before the court amid strict security arrangements, and pleaded that Ashiyana housing contract was given to Paragon Developers in violation of rules as the LDA did not seek any opinion from the experts before signing the contracts.

They said that the whole project was of Rs14 billion whereas the company had a capital value of Rs15 million. The officials implored the court to extend remand of the suspects, so that the further investigation could be carried out.

The lawyer of the accused, however, opposed the request and contended that the NAB had failed to produce any cogent evidence against their clients during the last 57-day long remand. He pointed out all rules and regulation had been fully observed before awarding the contracts of the housing schemes.

After hearing both sides, the court accepted the plea and extended till April 26 physical remand of the accused.

Cheema was arrested last month for misusing his authority and, with criminal intent, processing and awarding Ashiana-e-lqbal project contract worth Rs14 billion to Lahore CASA Developers, a joint venture a firm which was ineligible for the same. The contract, in connivance with other accused persons, was awarded in violation of PPP Act, 2014.

NAB inquiry further revealed that Bismillah Engineering Services Co (a major shareholder of JV titled Lahore CASA Developers) was a proxy firm working on behalf of Paragon City (Pvt) Ltd.

Cheema allegedly received illegal gratification in the form of 32 kanals of land (valuing Rs30.09 million approximately from the owners of Paragon City (Pvt) Ltd.

Government is facing a liquidation loss of about Rs 455 million as the estimate of the construction of Ashiana Iqbal Housing Scheme has increased manifold due to delay in the project.