Two Chinese nationals, Meng Wei Kun and Mr Xu Kua have been convicted and sentenced to six years imprisonment for money laundering and bribery crimes by the Court of Appeal, Sokoto Division on Friday, 31st March 2023.
Justice Abubakar Mahmud Talba of the Court of Appeal, Sokoto Division, who gave the ruling held that they are sentenced to three years imprisonment for each of the two-count charge for offences of Conspiracy, Money Laundering and attempted Bribery to the tune of N50 Million (Fifty Million Naira) brought against them by the Sokoto Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC).
The judgement came as a result of an appeal brought by the EFCC against the judgment of the Federal High Court Sokoto, which discharged and acquitted the accused persons on all three-count charges.
Delivering his judgment, Justice Talba berated the respondents that tried to frustrate the appeal through manoeuvrings noting that, “gone are the days of technicalities in law”. He further emphasised that going forward, courts must allow cases to be heard on their merits.
Justice Talba added that the EFCC had proven 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 and accordingly struck it out because a similar charge is pending before the High Court of Justice Sokoto State.
According to Justice Talba, “the respondents are charged with Conspiracy and making a cash payment above 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 a reasonable doubt before the lower Court. But surprisingly, the trial Judge summer salted in his judgement and recanted.”
He further said: “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.”
The Judge stated 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.”
He, therefore, held that the appeal is “immensely meritorious”. He, therefore, 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.
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. 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”.