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ICPC arraigns former SMEDAN boss over N119.8m bribe

Visa fraudster gets one-year suspended sentence

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 Masari, before an Abuja High Court for alleged bribery.

According to Rasheedat Okoduwa, ICPC’s spokesperson, Masari was accused of receiving a total of N119.8 million in bribes from several contractors handling Constituency Projects and four federal legislators. He was said to have committed the offences between April 2014 and July 2015.

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, 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.

The court was also told that Masari received different bribes ranging from N800, 000 to N20, 000, 000 from 12 contractors. The bribe monies were allegedly received through Masari’s Diamond Bank and Guaranty Trust Bank accounts.

The ICPC said the Masari’s actions were 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 accused pleaded not guilty to the charge, and following the application of his counsel, Mahmood Magaji (SAN), the court granted him bail in the sum of N50 million with two sureties in like sum who 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 are also expected to deposit an ‘affidavit of means’ including being residents of the Federal Capital Territory.

In the meantime, the trial judge, Adebola Adeniyi, ruled that Masari should be remanded in Kuje prison pending the fulfilment of his bail conditions while the matter was adjourned to November 26 to 29, 2018 for continuation.

Visa fraudster pleads guilty, gets one-year suspended sentence

In another development, the ICPC has secured a one-year suspended prison sentence against one Giwa Ishola who was accused of visa racketeering, forgery and making false statements.

Ishola was said to have provided misleading information to the United States of America (USA) consulate in Lagos with the intent of procuring a visa; an action which is contrary to relevant sections of ICPC Act and the Criminal Code respectively.

The ICPC arrested Ishola on the day he came to have his visa interview at the US Embassy in Lagos. Documents retrieved from him include a United Bank for Africa (UBA) letter conveying approval for his annual leave, and a Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) statement of account.

Investigations revealed that Ishola was not a staff of UBA as claimed and that the content of the statement of account he presented was not a true representation of his account with GTB.

It was also discovered that the visas for United Kingdom, Republic of Benin, Republic of Togo and Ghana contained in his international passport were fake.

When he was charged to court, Ishola agreed to a plea bargain and pleaded guilty to the three-count charge brought against him.

As a result, the trial judge sentenced him to pay a fine of fifty thousand Naira only on each count instead of being made to serve a prison sentence.

The court also made Giwa undertook to be of good behaviour for a period of one year and to execute a bond to this effect with the High Court Registry in the sum of Three Hundred Thousand Naira (300, 000.00).

The money would be forfeited should the convict breach the terms of his undertakings, and then he would be made to serve the one-year jail term.

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