A federal high court sitting in Ilorin, Kwara State capital, has convicted and sentenced a 29-year-old Chinese national, Gang Deng, to five years’ imprisonment.

He was arraigned for offences bordering on illegal mining and possession of crude minerals without lawful authority.

Gang was arrested in Tsaragi, Edu Local Government Area in September by the Ilorin Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

He was accused by the anti-graft body of being in possession of 25 tons of crude minerals suspected to be lepidolite, a raw material usually transported to China for production of batteries for vehicles, cell phones, cameras and other electronic devices.

Deng, who is the Managing Director of Sinuo Xinyang Nigeria Ltd, confessed to the crime admitting that he was operating without licence, the EFCC told the court.

He however entered “not guilty plea” for his company.

Counsel to the EFCC, Innocent Mbachie, urged the court to convict the defendant as charged.

Justice Sani in his judgment, took into consideration the argument by Gang’s counsel pleading for clemency on the grounds that the convict was a first offender and a responsible citizen.

Consequently, the court sentenced Gang to five years’ imprisonment.

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.

He was however given an option of N1m fine.

The court, thereafter adjourned to November 17, 2022 for hearing in the case of the convict’s company.

Operatives of the EFCC, in collaboration with the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development in August arrested 13 suspected illegal miners operating in Patigi Local Government Area of Kwara State.

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