Chinese nationals jailed for illegal mining in Kwara

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it has secured the conviction of two Chinese nationals, Duan Ya Hong and Xiao Yi, for their involvement in illegal mining in Kwara State.

The EFCC, in a statement made available on its Facebook page on Thursday, disclosed that the convicts were first arraigned on April 22 alongside their company, Ebuy Concept Limited, on one count bordering on illegal mining before a Federal High Court sitting in Ilorin, Kwara State capital.

The anti-graft agency stated that following the arraignment of Hong and Yi, they pleaded not guilty to their offence and were granted bail in the sum of N5m and two sureties each.

The statement read in part, “The lone-count charge reads: That you, Ebuy Trading Worldwide Nig. LTD, Duan Ya Hong, and Xiao Yi, sometime in 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.”

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“They pleaded not guilty to the charges when they were read to them.

“Consequently, they were granted bail of N5m 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.”

The statement stated further that following a second hearing on Tuesday, Hong and Yi, however, reversed their plea and admitted to being guilty of illegal mining.

Following their guilty plea and lack of objection from their defence counsel, the judge, Justice Anyadike, at the continued hearing on Wednesday, found the defendants guilty and sentenced them to one-year imprisonment each with an option of N2m and N1.5m fine respectively.

“The defendants, represented by I.A. Ahmed, did not object to the admissibility of the exhibits tendered by the prosecution; hence, they were admitted in evidence by the court.

“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 N2 million, while Yi, on the other hand, was sentenced to one-year imprisonment with an option of N1.5m,” the EFCC stated.

The court also ordered that the 30 tons of minerals and the truck conveying the minerals be forfeited.

Recall that in July 2023, operatives of the Ilorin Zonal Command of the anti-graft agency arrested 13 Chinese nationals over offences bordering on illegal mining activities in the state.

The offence, according to the EFCC, contravened Section 1(8) (b) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap M17, 1983.

The suspects, according to Uwuajaren, comprised of a female and 12 males.

The statement said that they were arrested on on July 12, 2023, at the Government Reserved Area, Ilorin, following credible intelligence about their activities which included, but were not limited to, illegal mining and non-payment of royalties to the Federal Government as required by law.

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