Mr. Meng Wei Kun and Mr. Xu Kuai, both Chinese nationals, were sentenced to three years in prison for corruption by the Court of Appeal, Sokoto Division.
The convicts were previously arraigned before the Federal High Court in Sokoto on a three-count charge of conspiracy, money laundering, and attempted bribery.
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The convicts were accused of offering a N50 million bribe to officials of the EFCC’s Sokoto Zonal Command.
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However, the lower court discharged and acquitted them of the charges, necessitating an appeal by the anti-graft agency.
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In his decision on Friday, Justice Abubakar Mahmud Talba stated that the respondents attempted to sabotage the Appeal through maneuverings, adding that “gone are the days of technicalities in Law.”
“Courts must allow cases to be heard on merits,” he said.
According to him, the EFCC proved Counts 1 and 2 of the three-count charge before the Federal High Court beyond a reasonable doubt, but agreed with the lower Court on Count 3 and had it dismissed because a similar charge was pending before the High Court of Justice of 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 summersaulted 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,” Justice Talba averred.
He noted that, conspiracy was a distinct offence even if the commission of the actual offence was aborted.
“And in the instant case there exists positive cogent inescapable evidence the offence was committed”, he said.
He held that the appeal was immensely meritorious, thus 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.
“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,” he stressed
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