By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – 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, Mr. Bature Masari, over allegation that he received N119.8 million from several contractors handling Constituency Projects.
In a 27-count charge it filed before Justice Adebola Adeniyi of the High Court of the Federal Capital, Abuja, the Commission, said its investigations revealed that the ex-SMEDAN, received the bribe money, for himself and four federal legislators.
Counsel to ICPC, Mr. Henry Emore, told the court that Masari had on November 27, 2014, collected the sum of N50m from Hamshakin Ventures Ltd for four lawmakers- Herman Hembe, Emmanuel Udende, Benjamin Aboho and Oker Jev, who were all members of the House of Representatives from Benue State; and a contractor, Kike Engineering Services, before awarding a constituency project contract to the said Hamshakin Ventures.
It further alleged that the defendant asked and received various bribes sums ranging from N800, 000 to N20, 000, 000 from 12 different contractors, using his Diamond Bank and Guaranty Trust Bank accounts.
He was said to have committed the offence between April 2014 and July 2015.
Specifically, the ex-SMEDAN DG was accused of conferring corrupt advantage upon himself, as well as, receiving gratification in the course of discharging his official duties, 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 further violates Section 19 of the same law and punishable under the same section.
The defendant however pleaded not guilty to the charge, even as his lawyer, Mr. Mahmud Magaji, SAN, prayed the court to allow him on bail pending trial.
Magaji who begged the court to grant his client bail on liberal terms, vouched that he would be available to face his trial.
Following a no objection stance by the prosecuting counsel, Justice Adeniyi granted the defendant bail to the tune of N50m with two sureties in like sum.
The court held that the sureties must be Directors in the employment of either the Federal Civil Service or any federal agency; or the Federal Capital Territory or any of its agencies.
The sureties who must be residents of the FCT, were also directed to depose an affidavit of means before the court.
Pending the fufilment of the bail conditions, Justice Adeniyi ordered that the defendant should be remanded in Kuje prison.
The case was subsequently adjourned to November 26 and 29 for trial.