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Bizman, official forfeits N50m to govt over illegal exportation of gold

Gold bars

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Tuesday two persons and a company, Bukar Mandara Zarami Ltd over illegal possession and exportation of 35.58 kilograms of Gold.

The men, Bukar Mandara Zarami, and Karnap Fenan Wuyep arraigned before Justice Hassan, having been arrested at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos on November 11,2018 with the gold bars  wrapped in six backs.

The prosecution counsel Rotimi Oyedepo informed the court that the first and second defendant Bukar Mandara Zarami and his company Bukar Mandara Zarami Limited ,The first defendant was arrested at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport Lagos on the 11th day of November 2018, found in his possession was 35.58 kilograms of gold bars wrapped in six bags.

He was brought to The Economic And Financial Crimes Conmission, (EFCC) where the gold bars where measured and counted in the presence of the first defendant, his counsel, a representative from Ministry of Mines and steel ,all parties present signed the measurements document.

The prosecution sought to tender  in evidence ,the signed measurement document and the first defendant boarding pass.

Justice Hassan admitted the document and boarding pass of the first defendant and marked it exhibit P1 and P2.

The prosecution further told the court that investigations carried out by the EFCC also revealed that the first and second defendant did not have the appropriate permit to possess or deal in 35.58kg of gold, the defendant gave a statement to the EFCC that he gave an official of the ministry on Mines about three Million Naira (N3,000,000) as Royalty. Investigation however shows the actual amount he was to pay for Royalty was (N6,772,64,16k)..;) six million, seven hundred and seventy two thousand, sisters four Naira and sixteen Kobo.

This showed clearly there was no appropriate permit for that quantity of gold bars. Also revealed was the official from the Ministry who received the money from the first defendant, rather than putting the funds received in treasury, he transferred the sum of Seven Hundred Thousand Naira (N700,000) to the third defendant who is a director in the Ministry of Mines. This led to further look into the account of the officer who made that transfer, Steven Bakkuk, whose account was also used for transfers of unlawful enrichment. It also discovered that N28 million was taken from treasury, and sent to the Third defendant.

In another instance, on May 22, 2018, $19, 440 was delivered to the third defendant, an amount in excess of what is authorized by law to be received in cash and it constitutes an offence against money laundering Act 2011.

The prosecution sought to tender the statement of Account of  Mr Steven Bukkuk in United Bank For Africa, written statements of the first and third defendants.

Justice Hassan admitted the documents as evidence and marks them exhibit P3,P4, and P5 respectively.

Oyedepo informed the court of the plea bargain agreement entered into by the defendants, their counsels, the prosecution and the investigator.

In view of the facts, evidence and admission of guilt of the defendants, he prayed the court to convict the defendants on the amended charge and prayed the court to sentence the defendants to the terms agreed in the plea bargain.

Justice Hassan ordered the plea be read to the defendants .

One of the counts reads: “That you Bukar Mandara Zarami on or about the the 9th day of November, 2018 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court , dealt in 35.58 kilogram of Gold Bars wrapped in six bags without appropriate permit and you therefore committed an offense contrary to and punishable under section 134(c) of the Nigerian Mineral and Mining Act, 2007.

Another counts reads: That you “Karnap Fenan Wuyep on it about the 22nd day of May, 2018 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court , without going through any Financial Institution accepted cash payment of the Sum of $19,440(Nineteen Thousand , four Hundred and Forty United States Dollars, from one Bakkkuk Steven Goyol, which sum exceeded the amount authorized by Law and you here by commuted an offence Contrary to section 1)(a), section 16(1) (d) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011 as Amended and punishable under section 16(2)(b)  of the same act

The defendants pleaded guilty to the charges preferred against them.

In view of the plea the prosecution informed the court that the first defendant had issued a cheque of Three million Naira (N3,000,000) in favor of the Federal Government as one of the terms agreed upon in the plea bargain. Also  the first defendant is to forfeit the undeclared 5.5 kilograms of Gold bars to the Federal Government.The EFCC In conjunction with the Deputy Chief Registrar of the court would facilitate the sale of the forfeited gold bars and the  proceed be remitted into the Consolidated Revenue Funds Account of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

The agreement entered into with the third defendant is that the third defendant would pay a fine of ten Million Naira (N10,000000) and would forfeit the recovered Access bank drafts to the tune of Thirty six Million Naira (N36,000,000).

Both defendants are to enter a bond with the EFCC to be of good behavior and never to be involved in  any form of Economic and Financial Crimes, both within and outside the shores of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Justice Hassan convicted the defendants on the two count amended  charge and ordered that the plea bargain agreement is made the judgement of the court.

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