The trial of two Chinese: Meng Wei Kun and Xui Kuoi of China Zhongao Nigeria Ltd., slated to begin, Monday, June 15, 2020, before Justice Muhammad Sa’idu Sifawa of the Sokoto State High Court, could not go on as planned, following the withdrawal of defence counsel, Ahmed Raji & Co from representing the defendants. Based on this, the commencement of their trial is now slated for June 29, 2020.
The defendants are facing prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes, EFCC, for allegedly offering to bribe the Sokoto Zonal Head of the Commission, Mr Abdullahi Lawal to the tune of N100,000 (One Hundred Million), out of which a part payment of N50,000.000.00 (Fifty Million Naira) in cash was offered on May 12, 2020. The suspects were promptly arrested by officers of the Commission.
China Zhongao Nigeria Ltd, a construction firm, is being investigated by the Commission in connection with the 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 also for the construction of 168 (One Hundred And Sixty-eight) solar-powered boreholes in the 14 local government areas of the state, valued at N50 billion (Fifty Billion Naira) between 2012 to 2019.
Worried by the consistency and professionalism in the investigation of the case, the two defendants reached out to Lawal on behalf of the company, with an offer of N100 million (One Hundred Million Naira) bribe so that the matter would be swept under the rug. They were arrested and later arraigned on Friday, May 15, 2020, on two-count charges of conspiracy and offering a bribe to a public servant to the tune of N100 million.
The trial was to commence on Monday, with prosecution counsel, S. H. Sa’ad presenting three witnesses in court.
The new defence counsel, Abdullahi Omoloye, prayed the court for a two-week adjournment to enable him to prepare adequately for the trial. Justice Sifawa adjourned the matter till June 29 and 30, and July 1 and 2, 2020 for the commencement of trial.