By Emma Njoku
A 29-year-old Chinese national, Gang Deng, was yesterday, sentenced to five years imprisonment by Justice Muhammed Sani of the Federal High Court, Ilorin, for offences bordering on illegal mining and possession of minerals without lawful authorisation.
Head, Media and Publicity, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Wilson Uwujaren, who made the disclosure in a statement, yesterday, said Gang was arrested by operatives of the Ilorin Zonal Command of the agency along Tsaragi Road in Share, Edu Local Government Area of Kwara State, last Friday. He was found to be in possession of 25 tons of minerals suspected to be Lepidolite, a raw material used for the production of batteries for vehicles, cell phones, cameras and other electronic devices.
It would be recalled that operatives of the EFCC, in collaboration with the Kwara State Command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC and the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development on August 30, 2022, arrested 13 suspected illegal miners operating in Kakafu village in Patigi Local Government Area of Kwara State. Mining without a license is a criminal offence under the law. It is an act of economic sabotage, punishable under Section 1 (8) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, which stipulates life imprisonment for offenders.
The Chinese national, who is the Managing Director of Sinuo Xinyang Nigeria Ltd, confessed to the crime. Consequently, the Ilorin Command of the EFCC arraigned Gang alongside his company, Sinuo Xinyang Nigeria Ltd, on one-count amended charge before Justice Sani. When the charge was read to the defendant, he pleaded guilty, but entered “not guilty plea” for his company. The charge reads: “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, 25 tons of mineral worth N2,490,000.00, conveyed in a DAF truck, with registered number KLRAD85XCOE603462, and, thereby, committed an offence, contrary and punishable under Section 1 (8) (b) of Miscellaneous Offences Act 1984.”
Upon his plea, counsel to the EFCC, Innocent Mbachie, reviewed the facts of the case and tendered documents, which were admitted in evidence. He urged the court to convict the defendant as charged.
Justice Sani in passing judgement, took into consideration the allocutus made by Gang’s counsel, who pleaded for clemency on the grounds that the convict was a first offender. Consequently, the court sentenced Gang to five years imprisonment with option of N1 million fine. The judge also ordered that the 25 tons of the mineral recovered from him at the point of arrest be forfeited to the Federal Government.
The court, thereafter, adjourned till November 17, 2022 for hearing in the case of the convict’s company, Sinuo Xinyang Nigeria Ltd.