The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has re-arraigned a former Director-General of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Bature Masari, over alleged N107.7 million money laundering.
According to a statement signed by the commission’s spokesperson, Tony Orilade, on Monday, Mr Masari was charged before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on an amended 22-count charge. The agency also said the offence is contrary to section 15(2)(b) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2012 as amended.
Mr Masari was earlier arraigned on April 10, on a 17-count charge before the same judge. He was later granted bail in the sum of N30 million by Mr Abang. According to one of the charges, Mr Masari was accused of committing the crime on November 27, 2014.
He was also accused of transferring N9 million to Benjamin Aboho from his Diamond Bank account from the N50 million he received from Hamshakin Ventures LTD as a graft. According to the statement, Mr Masari pleaded “not guilty” to the charges.
However, the counsel for the EFCC, E.E. Iheanacho, asked the court for a trial date in order to enable the prosecution prove its case against the defendant.
The defence counsel, Paul Okoye, appealed to the court to allow the defendant continue with the bail earlier granted by the court.
Subsequently, the prosecution presented its first witness, Mariam Ahmed, a staffer of Guarantee Trust Bank, Garki, Abuja.
While being led in evidence by Iheanacho, Mrs Ahmed, who works as a Relationship Manager, testified how the EFCC requested for some documents from the bank.
Mrs Ahmed reportedly said: In June 2018, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission wrote to us asking us 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 reportedly raised no objections as the prosecution tendered the documents against the defendant.
The statement said the witnesses narrated how the defendant withdrew and received money through his account. There was a credit entry of N3 million from KIKE ENGINEERING SERVICES, there was the debit entry of N1 million made in favour of Aboho Benjamin. There was a credit of N10 million from SABITY NIGERIA LTD, Mrs Ahmed explained. The prosecution also asked the witness to tell the court the nature of a transaction on June 6, 2014.
Mrs Ahmed said, there were about three transactions on that day: the 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.