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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Two Chinese bag jail terms over illegal mining in Kwara

By Monsurudeen Olowoopejo

The Federal High Court sitting in Ilorin, Kwara State has sentenced two Chinese nationals, Duan Ya Hong and Xiao Yi, to one year imprisonment for offences bordering on illegal mining and possession of solid minerals without requisite licences.

Both miners were sentenced by Justice Evelyn Anyadike, barely a month after they arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Delivering judgment, Justice Anyadike held that the prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt and pronounced them guilty as charged.

Consequently, the judge sentenced Hong to one year imprisonment with an option of fine of N2million, while Yi on the other hand was sentenced to one year imprisonment with an option of N1.5million. In addition, the court ordered the interim forfeiture of the 30 tons of minerals and the truck conveying same.

They were earlier arraigned before the court alongside their company, Ebuy Concept, on one-count charge bordering on illegal mining.

The lone-count charge reads:
“That you, Ebuy Trading Worldwide Nig. LTD, Duan Ya Hong, Xiao Yi sometime in the Month of February 2024 at Banni, in Kaiama Local Government Area of Kwara State, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, without lawful authority, purchased minerals to wit; 30 tons of minerals conveyed in a Truck, with Registration Number JJJ 386 XT and thereby committed an offence, contrary to and punishable under Section 1(8)(b) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act 1984”.

During the court, they pleaded not guilty to the charges after it was read to them.

Consequently, they were granted bail in the sum of N5 million naira with two sureties each in like sum. In addition, the court ordered that they be remanded in the custody of the EFCC pending the perfection of their bail conditions. Thereafter, the case was adjourned to Tuesday, May 14, 2024 for trial.

When the case came up on Tuesday, the defendants who were yet to perfect their bail, opted to plead guilty to count one of the amended 11-count charge and entered a plea of not guilty to the remaining counts, prompting the court to adjourn till Wednesday for a review of facts and possible conviction.

At the resumed sitting on Wednesday, counsel to the EFCC, Innocent Mbachie, reviewed the facts of the case and tendered in evidence the extra-judicial statements of the defendants, photographs of the defendants, samples of the minerals, photographs of the truck and the forensic report received from the Nigeria Geological Survey Agency on the analysis of the minerals.

The defendants, represented by I.A Ahmed, raised no objection to the admissibility of the exhibits tendered by the prosecution; hence, they were admitted in evidence by the court.

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