The Court of Appeal, Sokoto Division, has sentenced two Chinese nationals, Meng Wei Kun and Xu Kuai, to six years imprisonment for offences bordering on conspiracy, money laundering, and attempted bribery to the tune of N50 million brought against them by the EFCC.
The judgement is sequel to EFCC’s appeal brought against the judgement of the Federal High Court Sokoto, which discharged and acquitted the accused persons on all the three count charge.
Delivering judgement on Friday, Justice Abubakar Mahmud Talba berated the respondents who tried to frustrate the appeal through manoeuvrings, saying: “Gone are the days of technicalities in law.”
He stated that courts must allow cases to be heard on their merits.
Justice Talba further explained 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.
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“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.
“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.
“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,” the judge added.
While maintaining that the appeal was “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 on each count.
“Before I draw the curtain, the respondents are Chinese and an offence of this gravity in their home country attracts 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’,” Justice Talba stated.
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