Masari (L) during an official function

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has instituted a legal case against Bature Umar Masari, former Director-General (DG) of the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), over alleged improprieties in the award of constituency project contracts.

Although the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court is yet to fix a date for arraignment, the commission said on Friday that it had filed a 27-count charge bothering on money laundering and embezzlement.

Masari fraudulently awarded constituency project contracts to the tune of N184.5 million, the commission said.

According to a statement signed by the ICPC spokesperson, Mrs Rasheedat Okoduwa, the former DG awarded the specialised entrepreneurship constituency projects contracts for Benue State and allegedly received kickbacks to the tune of N99.8m between April 30, 2014 and December 24, 2014 from various contractors.

He was also accused of receiving the sum of N50m in November 2014 from one of the contractors and distributed part of the sum to some other persons.

This act contravened the provisions of Section 10(a)(i) and punishable under Section 10(a)(ii) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.

The commission also stated that there were additional charges against Masari, as he allegedly received various other sums from different contractors.

Furthermore, it said all payments from the contractors were made to the personal account of Masari with Guaranty Trust Bank and Salsala Integrated Farms bank account with Diamond Bank, a company allegedly linked to the defendant following a search to the Corporate Affairs Commission.

There have been reports about how constituency projects are channels of embezzling public funds. Saharareporters recently chronicled the litany of empowerment programmes supposedly initiated as constituency projects but were never executed or were executed with bloated funds.

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