By Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja and Onuminya Innocent
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Sokoto Zonal Office yesterday arraigned the duo of Meng Wei Kun and Xui Kuoi, both Chinese, before Justice Mohammed Sa’idu Sifawa of the State High Court Sokoto on two-count charges of conspiracy and offering bribe to a public servant to the tune of N100 million.
This is coming as the African Development Bank (AfDB) debarred Chinese construction company, China Zhonghao Limited, for a period of 18 months over its involvement in bribery.
The EFCC arraigned Meng Wei Kun and Xui Kuoi, two Chinese, working with China Zhonghao Limited at the Sokoto State High Court yesterday, on an allegation of bribery. The defendants were docked for allegedly offering to bribe the EFCC Sokoto Zonal Head, Mr. Abdullahi Lawal with the said sum on behalf of a construction company, China Zhonghao Nig. Ltd, which is being investigated over contracts awarded it by the Zamfara State Government in the sum of N50 billion between 2012 to 2019.
The EFCC is investigating the construction company in connection with the execution of contracts for the construction of township roads in Gummi, Bukkuyun, Anka and Nassarawa towns of Zamfara State; and also the construction of 168 solar-powered boreholes in the 14 local government areas of the state.
Count one read: ’That you Mr. Meng Wei Kun and Mr. Xu Kuoi sometimes in May 2020 at Kasarawa area, Airport Road Sokoto, within the jurisdiction of the High Court of Justice Sokoto State agreed to do an illegal act to wit; bribery and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 59 of the Sokoto State Penal Code Law, 2019 and Punishable under Section 60 (2) of the same Law’’.
The second count read: ‘’That you Mr. Meng Wei Kun and Mr. Xu Kuoi on the 11th of May 2020 at about 2200 hours at Kasarawa area, Airport Road Sokoto, within the jurisdiction of the High Court of Justice Sokoto State, being staff of China Zhonghao Nigeria Limited, offered a bribe of fifty million naira as inducement to one Abdullahi Lawal a Public Servant (Zonal Head of Operations of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Sokoto Zonal Office) in order to compromise an ongoing investigation involving your company with regard to various contracts award/execution in parts of Zamfara State and thereby committed an offence of offering bribe to a Public servant contrary to Section 83 of the Sokoto State Penal Code Law, 2019 and Punishable under Section 83 (2) of the same Law’’.
The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges when read to them.
In view of their pleas, prosecution counsel, Musa Mela Gwani who appeared with Habila Jonathan, asked for a date to commence trial and prayed the court for an accelerated hearing.
However, counsel to the defendants, A. A. Usman, told the court that he had filed an application of bail for his clients and urged the court to grant his prayers.
Justice Sifawa adjourned the matter to May 18, 2020 for bail hearing and June 15, 2020 for commencement of trial. He ordered them to be remanded in EFCC custody.
Trouble started for the two Chinese when they offered N100 million as bribe to Abdulahhi Lawal, EFCC Sokoto Zonal Head, in a desperate bid to compromise ongoing investigations of a construction company, China Zhonghao Nig. Ltd, handling contracts awarded by the Zamfara State Government to the tune of N50billion (Fifty Billion Naira) between 2012 to 2019. They were arrested and now facing prosecution for such an act of corruption.
Meanwhile, the African Development Bank ( ADB) has debarred China Zhonghao Limited, employer of two Chinese recently arrested by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC for 18 months over fraudulent practices.
The company was debarred for fraudulently misrepresenting its year of incorporation, value of its reference contracts and cognate experience of its key personnel while bidding for two tenders under ADB-financed Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Improvement Project for Oyo and Taraba States in Nigeria.
A statement issued by EFCC said reports available to the it showed that, ADB’s office of Integrity and Anti-Corruption established that China Zhonghao Limited committed the fraudulent deals and debarred it from participating in projects financed by the bank for a period of 18 months.
Aside the 18 months exclusion from the bank’s financed projects, China Zhonghao stands debarred by other multilateral development banks like the World Bank group; Asian Development Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Inter-American Development Bank, owing to Agreement for Mutual Enforcement of Debarment Decisions among the banks.