ICPC arraigns ex-DG of SMEDAN over alleged N120m bribe, convicts visa racketeer
The Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has arraigned a former Director General of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Bature Umar Masari.
He was arraigned for allegedly receiving bribes amounting to N119.8 million from several contractors handling constituency projects for him and four other federal legislators.
Masari, who was arraigned before Justice Adebola Adeniyi of the High Court, Abuja, was accused of committing the offence between April 2014 and July 2015, when he received bribes on many occasions from the contractors through his bank accounts.
In a statement issued yesterday in Abuja by its spokesperson, Rasheedat Okoduwa, the commission in a 27-count charge, accused Masari of conferring corrupt advantage on himself, as well as receiving gratification in the course of discharging his official duties.
This, she said was contrary to Section 10 (a) (i) and punishable under Section 10(a)(ii) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000. His offence also violates Section 19 of the law and punishable under the same section.
Counsel to ICPC, Henry Emore, told the court that the ex-DG received N50 million on November 27, 2014 from Hamshakin Ventures Ltd for Herman Hembe, Emmanuel Udende, Benjamin Aboho and Oker Jev and Kike Engineering Services, before awarding a constituency project contract to Hamshakin Ventures.
The accused, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges as his counsel, Mahmood Magaji (SAN), asked the court to grant Masari bail on liberal terms.
Meanwhile, the ICPC also disclosed that it has secured the conviction of one Giwa Sulaimon Ishola for forgery, false statements and visa racketeering.
It said that it discovered that his United Kingdom, Republic of Benin, Republic of Togo and Ghana visas in his international passport were all fake.
The convict proposed a plea bargain, however, pleaded guilty to the charges when they were read to him.
The trial judge, therefore, convicted Giwa and ordered him to pay a fine of N50, 000 on each count in lieu of custodial sentence.
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