An appeal court in Sokoto State has sentenced two Chinese citizens Meng Wei Kun and Xu Kuai to three years imprisonment for corruption, reports Daily Trust.
The foreigners were earlier arraigned before a Federal High Court in Sokoto, on a 3-count charge bordering on conspiracy, money laundering and attempted bribery.
The convicts were said to have offered a N50 million bribe to officials of the Sokoto Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The high court would later discharge and acquit them of the charges. This further forced EFCC to appeal the case.
Delivering judgment on Friday, Justice Abubakar Mahmud Talba, held that the respondents tried to frustrate the appeal through maneuverings, stating that: “Gone are the days of technicalities in law”.
“Courts must allow cases to be heard on merits,” he advised.
According to him, the EFCC had proven Count 1 and 2 of the 3 Count charge before the Federal High Court beyond reasonable doubt but agreed with the lower Court on count 3 and accordingly struck it out because a similar Charge was 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 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.