Alleged corruption: Ex-SMEDAN DG gave four Benue legislators N50m –ICPC

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Investigative officer with the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, Mr. Taiwo Olorunyomi, on Friday told an FCT High Court, Apo, that Bature Masari, a former Director General of Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency, gave N50m to some members of the House of Representatives.

Olorunyomi made the allegation while testifying in the ongoing case of contract fraud filed against Masari.

Masari is charged with 27 counts bordering on fraudulent award of constituency project contracts worth N184.5m.

The witness informed the court that, based on a petition written by one Jubril Usman against Masari, the ICPC began investigating the award of contracts made by Masari.

Olorunyomi reported that, in the course of investigation, the anti-graft commission requested for the defendant’s bank statements from Guaranty Trust Bank, Diamond Bank and First Bank.

While analysing the bank statements, Olorunyomi said, the ICPC discovered that some contractors made several payments into the defendant’s account.

Olorunyomi informed that one of such payments was N50m deposited into the defendant’s Diamond Bank account by one Hamshaki Ventures.

He said Hamshaki Ventures was one of the contractors that obtained contracts from Masari during his tenure as SMEDAN DG.

The witness also alleged that the money was shared to four members of the National Assembly representing Benue State.

He alleged that N9m each was given to Heman Hembe, Benjamin Aboho, Orker Jev and Emmanuel Memga for contractors to execute their constituency projects.

“We discovered in the course of investigation that Hamshaki Ventures, a company which had got several contracts with SMEDAN, lodged about N50m on November 27, 2014, through the Diamond Bank account of the defendant.

“The bank statement indicated that this N50m was distributed to the aforementioned honorable members.

“These honorable members of the National Assembly representing Benue State had constituency projects and these contractors carried the projects out,” he said.

Olorunyomi further said that the ICPC discovered that the defendant gave another N3m each to Hon. Anthony Madwatte and Hon. Mahmud Wambai of Adamawa State, to give constituency projects out.

He also reported that when the defendant was questioned with regard to the purpose of the payments, Masari said the money was payment for farm produce supplied to contractors.

The witness also said that Masari promised to produce the receipts of the payments, but failed to do so.

Olorunyomi tendered evidence that included the bank statements, Masari’s written statement and payment vouchers to support his claim and were marked as exhibits.

Counsel to the defendant, Etim Okoye, prayed the court for an adjournment to enable him prepare for cross-examination.

Justice Olukayode Adeniyi adjourned the case until June 25 for further hearing. Punch

 

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