The Ilorin Division of the Federal High Court on Wednesday sentenced a 29-year-old Chinese national, Gang Deng, to five years’ imprisonment over offences bordering on illegal mining and possession of crude minerals.
The Ilorin zonal command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) secured the conviction after arraigning Mr Deng alongside his company, Sinuo Xinyang Nigeria Ltd, before the court.
Justice Muhammed Sani, in his judgement, sentenced Mr Deng to five years imprisonment with an option of N1 million fine.
Mr Sani also ordered that the 25 tons of the mineral recovered from him at the point of arrest be forfeited to the federal government.
“That you Sinuo Xinyang Nigeria Ltd and Gang Deng, sometime in the month of September 2022 at Share, along Tsaragi Road in Edu Local Government Area of Kwara State, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, without lawful authority purchased mineral to wit,” the charge against Mr Deng reads.
“25 tons of mineral worth the sum of N2,490,000.00 conveyed in a DAF TRUCK, with Registration Number KLRAD85XCOE603462, and thereby committed an offence, contrary and punishable under Section 1 (8) (b) of Miscellaneous Offences Act 1984.”
The defendant pleaded guilty on one count amended charge read to him but entered a “not guilty plea” for his company.
Upon his plea, counsel to the EFCC, Innocent Mbachie, reviewed the facts of the case and tendered documents, which were admitted in evidence.
Mr Mbachie urged the court to convict the defendant as charged.
“It is an act of economic sabotage, punishable under Section 1 (8) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, which stipulates life imprisonment for offenders,” Mr Sani said in his judgement.
The judge, however, considered the allocutus made by Mr Deng’s counsel, who pleaded for clemency because the convict was a first offender and a responsible citizen.
The court thereafter adjourned to November 17 for further hearing in the case of the convict’s company, Sinuo Xinyang Nigeria Ltd, to which he pleaded not guilty to the amended charge.
Mr Deng was arrested along Tsaragi Road in Share, Edu Local Government Area of Kwara, on September 9, by the Ilorin Zonal Command of the EFCC.
He was found to be in possession of 25 tons of crude minerals suspected to be lepidolite.
Lepidolite is a raw material usually transported to China to produce batteries for vehicles, cell phones, cameras and other electronic devices.