Two Chinese men will serve six years after a Nigerian court found them guilty of bribery.
The Court of Appeal sitting Sokoto in Nigeria’s North West had on March 31, 2023 pronounced the sentence on the men suspected of varied crimes including money laundering, conspiracy, and attempted bribery.
The two convicts identified as Meng Wei Kun and Xu Kuai, were found guilty of an attempt to bribe an investigative officer of the anti-graft Economic and Financial Crime Commission (ECC) with N50 million ($106,000).
But the two Chinese men were given the option of paying a fine of N20 million ($42,500).
EFCC had accused the convicts of attempting to bribe its official, Mr Abdullahi Lawal, in May 2011 with cash to compromise a criminal investigation on a Chinese firm, Zhongao Nigeria Ltd, at the time.
Mr Wilson Uwujaren, the Head of Media and Publicity of EFCC, released the charges against the Chinese.
The Federal High Court in Sokoto had initially discharged and acquitted the Chinese nationals but a panel of three judges of the Court of Appeal in Sokoto overturned the acquittal on March 31, 2023.
Justice Abubakar Talba, who delivered the judgement, described the Federal High Court’s decision to acquit the Chinese men as “fiction”.
Mr Talba, said that, in fact, the Chinese men would have gotten the death penalty for the same offences back in Beijing.
Death penalty in China
“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’,” Mr Talba said.
The judge went on to sentence the Chinese men to three years imprisonment on two counts of conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering.
The court acquitted them on the third count.
This is not the first time Chinese nationals have been found on the wrong side of the law.
Last year in October, a 29-year-old Chinese national, Gang Deng, was sentenced to five years in prison by the Federal High Court in Ilorin, North Central Nigeria for illegal mining and possession of minerals without lawful authority.
He had been arrested in September 2022 by EFCC with a truck of minerals suspected to be lepidolite.
The convict, a staffer at Sinuo Xinyang Nigeria Ltd, was arrested alongside Tsaragi Road in Edu local government area of Kwara State.
His lawyers had pleaded clemency on the grounds that the convict was a first-time offender but the presiding judge, Justice Muhammed Sani, sentenced Gang to five years imprisonment with the option of N1 million fine.
Minerals forfeited to state
The court also ordered that the 25 tonnes of the minerals recovered from him be forfeited to the federal government.
Earlier in June 2022, the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, sentenced a Chinese national, Li Lei Lei, to two years imprisonment for mutilating the Nigerian currency, the naira.
He was found guilty of mutilating the naira notes on in May 2022 after he was arraigned by the Lagos Zonal Command of EFCC on a four-count charge of tampering with the Nigerian note, an offence punishable under Section 21(1) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Establishment Act.
He pleaded guilty to the offence and the prosecution counsel, Ayanfe Ogunshina, moved to review the facts of the case.