Nigeria: Deputy Director Bags 10 Years Jail Term Over N2.6 Million Fraud

29 October 2020

A deputy director in the Sokoto State Civil Service, Mr. Aminu Abdullahi Mega, was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment by the Sokoto State High court for defrauding the state government of N2.6 million.

This is coming as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Sokoto Zonal Office re-arraigned Meng Wei Kun and Xui Kuoi, before Justice Saleh Kogo Idrissa of the Federal High Court Sokoto for fraud.

The two Chinese were docked on a three-count charge of conspiracy and money laundering to the tune of N50 million.

A statement issued yesterday by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), said Mega, a deputy director in charge of infrastructure, in the Sokoto Agriculture Development Project (SADP), was earlier arraigned by the ICPC on a two-count charge bordering on fraudulent diversion of government funds.

The anti-graft agency in a charge sheet filed before Justice Malami Umar, of High Court 3, Sokoto, accused Mega of fraudulently converting into personal use, the sum of N2, 626, 500 being government money meant for the construction of borehole at SADP Housing Estate in the state.

He was also accused of presenting fake receipts to the commission during investigation to cover the fraud, thereby committing an offence contrary to Sections 16 and 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 and punishable under the same section.

He pleaded guilty when the charge was read to him. ICPC counsel, Mashkur Salisu, who had earlier tendered before the court, documents showing evidence of recoveries made from the convict by the commission, prayed the judge to sentence him as charged according to the provisions of Section 273 (2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law 2019 of Sokoto State.

The prayer was not opposed by counsel to the accused, Mr. A. Danbuwa, even as he pleaded with the court to be lenient to his client citing Sections 309, 310, 415 and 510 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law, Sokoto State, 2019, and considering the fact that the convict had returned the proceeds of the fraud to the commission.

Justice Umar after the plea sentenced the convict to 10 years imprisonment, five years on each count which would be served concurrently.

The ruling also includes an option of fine of N90, 000 on each of the counts.

Meanwhile, the EFCC, Sokoto Zonal Office has re-arraigned the Chinese duo of Meng Wei Kun and Xui Kuoi before Justice Saleh Kogo Idrissa of the Federal High Court Sokoto for fraud.

They were docked on a three-count charge of conspiracy and money laundering to the tune of N50million.

Before now, the defendants had faced a two-count charge before Justice Muhammad Sa'idu Sifawa of the Sokoto State High Court for allegedly offering bribe to the Head, Sokoto Zonal Office of EFCC, Mr Abdullahi Lawal to the tune of N50 million on behalf of Zhonghao Nig. Ltd, a Chinese construction company under investigation by the Sokoto Zonal Office of the Commission.

The company came under EFCC's criminal investigation following the questionable execution of contracts, awarded to it by the Zamfara State government for the construction of township roads in Gummi, Bukkuyun, Anka and Nassarawa towns of the state, and for the construction of 168 solar-powered boreholes in 14 local government areas of the state to the tune of over N50 billion, covering the period between 2012 and 2019.

One of the charges read, "That you Mr. Meng Wei Kun, (adult male) and Mr. Xu Kuai on the 11th of May 2020 at about 2200 hours at Kasarawa area, Airport Road Sokoto, in Sokoto within the jurisdiction this honourable court (Federal High Court) without going through a financial institution made cash payment of the sum of N50,000,000.00 to one Abdullahi Lawal, the Zonal Head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Sokoto Zonal Office which exceeded N5,000,000.00 for the purpose of compromising an ongoing investigation involving your company China Zhonghoa Nigeria Limited and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended by Act No.1 of 2012) and Punishable under Section 16 (2) of the same Law."

The defendants pleaded not guilty to all the charges, following which prosecution counsel, S.H. Sa'ad, asked the court for a commencement date of trial and prayed the court to remand them in prison custody, while defence counsel, A. T. Hassan, informed the court of a bail application he filed on behalf of the defendants and urged the court to grant them bail.

Justice Idrissa ordered that they be remanded in EFCC custody and adjourned the matter till October 29, 2020 for the hearing of the bail application.

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