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Sokoto Appeal Court jails Chinese nationals 6 years for conspiracy, money laundering

Photo Collage: Channels TV

*Justice Abubakar Mahmud Talba of the Court of Appeal, Sokoto Division, rules the respondents are Chinese, and ‘an offence of this gravity in their home country (China) attracts death penalty, yet here they are corrupting our country’

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

Justice Abubakar Mahmud Talba of the Court of Appeal, Sokoto Division Friday, March 31, 2023, convicted and sentenced two Chinese nationals, Meng Wei Kun and Mr. Xu Kuai, to three years’ imprisonment for each of the two count charge for offences of conspiracy, money laundering and attempted bribery with N50 million, which the Sokoto Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had brought against them.

It was gathered the judgement was sequel to EFCC’s appeal brought against the judgment of the Federal High Court Sokoto, which earlier had discharged and acquitted the accused persons on all the three three count charge.

ConsumerConnect learnt count two had read: “That you, Mr. Meng Wei Kun, adult, male and Mr. Xu Kuai adult, male on the 11th day of May 2020, at about 2200hrs at Kasarawa Area, Airport road Sokoto State within the Jurisdiction of this Honourable Court (Federal High Court) without going through a financial institution made a cash payment of the sum of Fifty Million Naira (N50,000,000.00) to one Abdullahi Lawal, the then Zonal Head of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Sokoto, which exceeded the Five Million Naira (N5,000,000.00) for the purpose of compromising an ongoing investigation involving the company, China Zhongao Nigeria Ltd, and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1(a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011 as amended in 2012 and punishable under Section 16 (2) (b) of the same Act.”

Delivering the unanimous judgment, Justice Talba berated the respondents that tried to frustrate the appeal through maneuverings stating that, “gone are the days of technicalities in law”.

The Judge also ruled the courts must allow cases to be heard on its merits.

Justice Talba further explained that the EFCC had proved counts one and two of the three count charge before the Federal High Court beyond reasonable doubt, but agreed with the lower Court on count three.

The Appeal Court then, struck it out because a similar charge is pending before the High Court of Justice Sokoto State.

“The respondents are charged with Conspiracy and making a cash payment in excess of the threshold provided by the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011 as amended in 2012 to Abdullahi Lawal (then zonal head of EFCC Sokoto) which was established beyond reasonable doubt before the lower Court.

“But surprisingly, the trial Judge somersaulted in his judgement and recanted,” said Justice Talba.

The presiding Judge stated: “I regret to say that the judgment is like a fiction by the trial judge who created doubts in his mind while discharging his responsibilities.

“Without doubt, the trial judge grossly misconceived that no offence was committed.”

He further noted that “conspiracy is a distinct offence, even if the commission of the actual offence is aborted, and in the instant case, there exists positive cogent inescapable evidence the offence was committed.”

While he maintained that the appeal is “immensely meritorious”, the judge convicted and sentenced the Chinese nationals to three years on each of the two counts with an option of N10 million fine each on each count, report said.

On a final note, the judge said, “before I draw the curtain, the respondents are Chinese and an offence of this gravity in their home country attracts the death penalty, yet here they are corrupting our country.”

Justice Talba added: “The courts of the Federal Republic of Nigeria will not condone corruption in any way; as President Muhammadu Buhari has said ‘if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria.”

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