The Court of Appeal, Sokoto Division on Friday, convicted and sentenced two Chinese nationals, Meng Wei Kun and Mr. Xu Kuai to six years imprisonment each.
The duo were sentenced by Justice Abubakar Mahmud Talba to three years imprisonment for each of the two count charges bordering on conspiracy, money Laundering and attempted bribery to the tune of N50 Million.
The judgement was in view of an appeal filed by the Sokoto Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, against the judgment of the Federal High Court Sokoto, which discharged and acquitted the accused persons on all three count charges it earlier instituted against them.
Delivering a unanimous judgment of the appellate court on Friday, Justice Talba berated the respondents for trying to frustrate the appeal through maneuverings.
He said: “Gone are the days of technicalities in law” as he stated going forward, courts must allow cases to be heard on its merits.”
The judge explained that EFCC had proven counts one and two of its three counts charge before the Federal High Court beyond reasonable doubt.
“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,” he said.
The judge held that the appeal is “immensely meritorious”.
Subsequently, he 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,” the judge said.