EFCC re-arraigns former SMEDAN boss, Masari

…calls first witness

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday re-arraigned a former Director General of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Bature Umar Masari, on an amended 22-count charge before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

Masari is being accused of crimes bordering on money laundering and gratification which is contrary to section 15(2)(b) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011 as amended by Act No.1 of 2012.

He was earlier arraigned on April 10, 2019, on a 17-count charge before the same judge.

Count one of the charges reads: “That you, Bature Umar Masari, on or about the 27th November 2014 at Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this honorable court did transfer the sum of N9 million to Benjamin I. Aboho from your Diamond Bank when you reasonably ought to have known that the said money formed part of the sum of N50 million or paid to you as gratification by Hamshakin Ventures LTD and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 15(2)(b) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 211 as amended by Act No.1 of 2012 and punishable under section 15(3) of the same Act.”

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The former SMEDAN boss pleaded “not guilty” to the charges when they were read out to him.

EFCC’s counsel, E.E. Iheanacho, thereafter prayed the court for a trial date in order to enable the prosecution to prove its case against the defendant.

Defence counsel, Paul Okoye, appealed to the court to allow the defendant to continue with the bail earlier granted by the court.

Subsequently, the prosecution called its first witness, Mariam Ahmed, a staff of Guarantee Trust Bank, Garki, Abuja.

While being led in evidence by Iheanacho, Ahmed, who works as a Relationship Manager, testified as to how the EFCC requested for some documents from the bank.

Ahmed said, in June 2018, the EFCC wrote to the bank asking for the account statement, as well as a certificate of identification.

“These documents were sent to the EFCC. We attached the covering letter and certificate of operation.”

The defence raised no objections as the prosecution tendered the documents against the defendant.
The witness further narrated how the defendant withdrew and received money through his account.

Ahmed said: “There was a credit entry of N3 million from KIKE ENGINEERING SERVICES.
“There was a debit entry of N1 million made in favor of Aboho Benjamin.
“There was a credit of N10 million from SABITY NIGERIA LTD.”
The prosecution also asked the witness to tell the court the nature of the transaction on June 6, 2014.
Responding Ahmed said: “There were about three transactions on that day all were a credit of N500,000 paid to Bature Bashir Tanimu, N2 million was paid in by Rahusa Venture LTD and N500,000 paid in by Bashir Bature Gambo Tanimu.”
The witness was also cross-examined by the defence counsel, after which Justice Abang adjourned to June 7, 2019, for the continuation of trial.

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