Alleged N19m money laundering: Again, EFCC arraigns ex-SMEDAN DG, Masari

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has re-arraigned a former Director General of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria, SMEDAN, Bature Umar Masari, on an amended 22-count charge of alleged money laundering.

Masari’s arraignment followed his alleged involvement in N119,507,080 money laundering and gratification.

When the matter came up on Tuesday, prosecution counsel, Ekele Iheanacho, told the judge of an amended 22-count charge, dated May 13, 2013, and filed on May 17, 2019, which he said, was before the court.

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Count 19 of the charge reads: “That you Bature Umar Masari between 27th June 2014 and 17th July 2014 at Abuja within the Jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did use the sum of N10,000,000.00 (Ten million naira) paid into your Diamond Bank Plc Account No. 002688674 by Rahuse Ventures Limited when you reasonably ought to have known that the said N10,000,000.00 was proceeds of unlawful activities to wit: conspiracy and gratification and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011 as amended by Act No. 1 of 2012) and punishable under section 15(3) of the same Act.”

Count 20 reads: “That you Bature Umar Masari between 14th July 2014 and 21st July 2014 at Abuja within the Jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did use the sum of N10,000,000.00 (Ten million naira) paid into your Diamond Bank Plc Account No. 002688674 by Rahuse Ventures Limited when you reasonably ought to have known that the said N10,000,000.00 was proceed of unlawful activities to wit: conspiracy and gratification and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011 as amended by Act No. 1 of 2012) and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.”

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The defendant, however pleaded not guilty to all the charges which led the prosecution counsel to apply for a trial date.

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But defence counsel, Okechukwu Edeze, told the court that the matter was originally before Justice Okong Abang before his elevation to the Court of Appeal.

According to him, Justice Abang has on May 24, 2019, granted the defendant bail, adding that since then, he has been enjoying the bail conditions.

Edeze prayed the court to allow his client to continue to enjoy the bail earlier granted him by Justice Abang.

After listening to all the arguments, Justice O. A Egwuatu released the defendant to his counsel as prayed and adjourned the matter till July 16, 2024, for the commencement of trial.

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