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 Umar Masari, for receiving bribes of N119.8 million from several contractors handling Constituency Projects for himself and four federal legislators. Masari who was arraigned before Justice Adebola Adeniyi of the High Court of the Federal Capital, Abuja, was accused of committing the offence between April 2014 and July 2015, when he asked and received bribes on many occasions from the contractors through his Diamond Bank and Guaranty Trust Bank accounts. The Commission, in a 27-count charge, accused Masari 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. Counsel to ICPC, Mr. Henry Emore, told the court that the ex-DG received N50 million on 27th November, 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 accused pleaded not guilty to the charge. His counsel, Mahmood Magaji (SAN), asked the court to grant him bail on liberal terms promising that the accused would always be available in court for trial. Justice Adeniyi, following no objection from ICPC, 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. They are also expected to deposit an ‘affidavit of means’ including being residents of the Federal Capital Territory. Adeniyi then ruled that Masari be remanded in Kuje prison pending the fulfilment of his bail conditions and adjourned the matter to ‘26th to 29th November, 2018 for trial’. ICPC secures Conviction against Another Visa Racketeer The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, has secured conviction against another visa racketeer one Mr. Giwa Sulaimon Ishola for forgery and making false statements. The Commission had filed a 3-count charge before Hon. Justice S. O. Solebo of an Ikeja High Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos state against the convict on allegations bordering on providing misleading information to the United States of America (USA) consulate in Lagos with the intent of procuring a visa which contravened Section 17(1)(c) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 and Section 516 of the Criminal Code Act Cap C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, respectively. Giwa was also accused of making false statements to officers of the Commission averring that the documents submitted to the Consulate were genuine when they were not which is contrary to Section 25 of the ICPC law. Trouble started for Giwa when ICPC received intelligence that he had submitted a visa application to the USA consulate with misleading and fraudulent documents. On the set day for further interview on his application, he was arrested by operatives of ICPC and the following documents were retrieved from him: a United Bank for Africa (UBA) letter conveying approval for his annual leave; a Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) statement of account. Further investigations revealed that the convict was not a staff of UBA as claimed and that the content of the statement of account he had was not a true representation of his account with GTB and therefore had been falsified. 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. The convict proposed a plea bargain upon which the prosecution filed a three-count amended charge indicating a plea bargain and sentence agreement which was executed by both parties. Consequently, the convict pleaded guilty to the charges when they were read to him. The trial judge convicted Giwa on his plea of guilt and sentenced him to pay a fine of Fifty Thousand Naira only on each count in lieu of custodial sentence. The defendant was also made to undertake 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) to be forfeited should he breach the terms of same. Failure upon which shall result in his imprisonment for a period of one year. It may be recalled that in recent years, ICPC has secured convictions against many visa racketeers which has received commendations from several foreign embassies in Nigeria.
Mrs. Rasheedat A. Okoduwa, mni
Spokesperson for the Commission