The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) on Monday arraigned a former Director-General of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Umar Masari, for mismanagement of public funds and bribery.
A statement signed by ICPC spokesperson, Rasheedat Okoduwa, said Mr Masari was arraigned before a Federal High Court in Abuja headed by Justice Adebola Adeniyi on a 27-count charge for collecting N119.8 million bribe from several contractors handling constituency projects for himself and four federal legislators.
According to the statement, Mr Masari was accused of committing the offence between April 2014 and July 2015. He was accused of receiving bribes on many occasions from contractors through his Diamond Bank and GuarantyTrust 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.” The commission says Mr Massari offence further violates Section 19 of the same law and punishable under the same section.”
Also the statement said counsel to ICPC, Henry Emore, told the court that the ex-DG received N50 million from Hamshakin Ventures Ltd, on behalf of four members of the House of Representative on November 27, 2014,
”The counsel to ICPC, 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.”
Similarly, the court was also told that Mr Masari received different bribes ranging from N800, 000 to N20 million from 12 contractors.
However, the accused pleaded not guilty to the charge. His counsel, Mahmood Magaji, 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 the accused 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.
The judge then ruled that Mr Masari be remanded in Kuje Prisons pending the fulfillment of his bail conditions and adjourned the matter to November 26 to 29 for trial.