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  • Crime
  • Updated: May 28, 2024

EFCC re-arraigns Masari for alleged N119m money laundering

EFCC re-arraigns Masari for alleged  N119m money laundering

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has re-arraigned Bature Umar Masari, the former Director General of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria, SMEDAN, on an amended 22-count charge of alleged money laundering before Justice O.A Egwuatu of the Federal High Court in Maitama, Abuja.

Masari's arraignment follows his alleged involvement in N119,507,080  One Hundred and Nineteen Million, Five Hundred and Seven Thousand, Eighty Naira, money laundering and gratification.

Prosecution Counsel Ekele Iheanacho informed the court of the amended 22-count charge dated May 13, 2013, and filed on May 17, 2019, which was presented before the court. 

He requested the court to read the charges to the defendant so he could enter his plea.

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”.

After the charges were read to the defendant, he pleaded “not guilty” to all the charges.

The prosecution counsel, in view of the “not guilty” plea, applied for a trial date.
But defence  counsel,  Okechukwu Edeze, told the court that the matter was originally before Justice Okong Abang before he got elevated to the Court of Appeal.

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

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

Iheanacho did not oppose the bail application, but only urged the court to ensure that the sureties are available and still willing to stand as sureties for the defendant.

“My Lord we are not opposing the application, except that we don’t know whether the sureties are still available and are still willing to stand as sureties for the defendant, that’s my only concern,” he said.

On his part, Edeze pleaded with the court to release his client to him on bail, and promised to produce him and his sureties on the next adjourned date.

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

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