The Sokoto Zonal Head of Operations of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), Abdullahi Lawal, on Wednesday, 15 July, 2020 told a Sokoto State High Court, sitting in Sokoto, that two Chinese: Meng Wei Kun and Xu Kuai offered him a bribe of N50 million on behalf of a construction company China Zhonghao Nig. Ltd
The company is being investigated over contracts it was awarded by the Zamfara State Government, in the sum of over Sixty Billion Naira (N60, 000,000,000.00) between 2012 and 2019. The bribe was allegedly offered to compromise an ongoing investigation by the EFCC.
Lawal told the court presided over by before Justice Muhammad Sa’idu Sifawa, while being led in evidence by the EFCC’ s counsel, S. H Sa’ad, that the defendants actually offered him the bribe. Zhonghao Nig. Ltd is being investigated in a case of conspiracy, embezzlement, money laundering, contract splitting and inflation of contracts.
At the resumed hearing of the matter on Wednesday, the EFCC presented its 2nd prosecution witness, Abdullahi Lawal, who told the court that, “on May 8, 2020, it was a Friday, while I was in my office at No. 7 Super Quarters, off Sama Road, Sokoto, the 1st defendant, Mr Meng Wei Kum called me and informed me that he was in Sokoto for the purpose of arranging N100 million for me, and everything will be ready by Monday, being May 11, 2020. Instantly, I called the EFCC Ag. Executive Chairman, Mr Ibrahim Magu and told him about what was happening, and that I will arrest the 1st defendant at the time of delivering the money. He gave me the approval”
“On Monday, at about 3pm, the 1st defendant called and informed me that the money was ready and that he was only able to raise N50million due to the lockdown and that a balance of N50million will be given at a later date. I said okay, no problem. He now informed me that I should come for the money in the night, at their office near Sokoto State University, along airport road, Kasarawa Village. I said I didn’t know the office. The 1st defendant said he will wait for me at Sokoto State University gate. Immediately after the discussion, I arranged a group of operatives and kept them on standby.
“Around 9pm, he sent me a text message that they were already there. In order to test how serious he was, I sent him a text message that he should leave it until tomorrow. He replied that I should come that the money was with them in cash and they didn’t want the money to sleep with them overnight for security reason. He said that they were already at the University gate. I said okay, I will get back to them. I called the officers that I arranged for the operation to come and meet me. They came in two vehicles and met me along airport Road. I told them I will first go, and after 15-20 minutes, they should come and meet me at their office where the money will be given.
“Upon our arrival at the office premises, Mr Meng (the 1st defendant) asked me to pack behind a truck that was at the front of a building. Meng said the truck was packed so that the people in the other building would not sight what was happening. He brought out keys and open the door and three of us, including the 2nd defendant entered into a parlour and I was given a seat and we all sat down and i was even offered water.
“Mr Meng welcomed me and introduced Mr. Xu Kuai, the 2nd defendant and asked me when they were going to get a clearance? I asked him which clearance? He replied a clearance certificate showing that they had been cleared by the EFCC. I told him you haven’t finished the job and you were asking of a clearance. He said they will do the job. He now said I should come and see the money.
“As we entered, I saw cartons of Sona bottled water filled with cash in Naira. The 1st defendant said, “Alhaji this is your money” I asked how much, “He said its N50million” I said bring it out and I observed that there are seven cartons. They brought it out to the parlour and in order to gain time for the arrival of my men, I said the money should be counted to confirm it. I told them to bring out all the money and count it out. The money was counted, it was N50million and then, we returned it inside the cartons and celotaped and sealed by the 2nd defendant. They
also offered to move the cartons into my car.
“I agreed but seeing that my men had not still arrived, I decided to sit them down and discuss something. I asked them when they would give me the balance, how long will it take? Mr Meng said very soon but after the lockdown because there are shortages of cash. He again asked about the clearance. I told him to arrange for the balance first.
“At that stage, we heard a knock on the door. The 1st defendant rushed to the door and I followed him and asked who was knocking the door. Mr Meng tried to lock the door, but I pushed him and opened the door. My men came in and arrested the two of them and searched all the rooms and the premises and counted the money under video coverage. During the search, three laptops and documents were recovered . Everything was documented.
We now went with the two defendants, N50million and the other items recovered during the search and also a black jeep.
“The N50 million was packed in two denominations of N500 Naira note of N10 million and N1000 naira note of N40 million arranged in seven cartoons of Sona table.”
They were identified and tendered by the prosecution through Lawal (PW2). The proceedings were not opposed by the defence counsel, A. T Hassan.
The money was tendered and admitted as exhibits by the court.
Justice Sifawa adjourned the case to August, 10, 11 and 12, 2020 for continuation of trial and that the money be kept in the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sokoto for safe keeping.