The former Director General of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria SMEDAN, Bature Masari was re-arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on an amended 22-count charge before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
According to the statement by EFCC, Bature Masari is being accused of crimes related to money laundering and gratification which is contrary to section 15(2)(b) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011 as amended by Act No.1 of 2012. He was earlier arraigned on April 10, 2019, on a 17-count charge before the same judge.
Count one against Bature Masari reads: “That you, Bature Umar Masari, on or about the 27th November 2014 at Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this honorable court did transfer the sum of N9,000,000.00 (Nine Million Naira) to Benjamin I. Aboho from your Diamond Bank when you reasonably ought to have known that the said money formed part of the sum of N50,000,000.00 (Fifty Million Naira) or paid to you as gratification by Hamshakin Ventures LTD and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 15(2)(b) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 211 as amended by Act No.1 of 2012 and punishable under section 15(3) of the same Act.”
Bature Masari pleaded “not guilty” to the charges.
Counsel for the EFCC, E.E. Iheanacho, thereafter prayed the court for a trial date in order to enable the prosecution to prove its case against the defendant.
Defence counsel, Paul Okoye, appealed to the court to allow the defendant to continue with the bail earlier granted by the court.
Subsequently, the prosecution presented its first witness, Mariam Ahmed, a staff of Guarantee Trust Bank, Garki, Abuja.
While being led in evidence by Iheanacho, Ahmed, who works as a Relationship Manager, testified as to how the EFCC requested for some documents from the bank.
Ahmed said: “In June 2018, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission wrote to us asking us for the account statement, as well as a certificate of identification.