A 25-year-old truck driver, Nuhu Musa, from Zaria Local Government of Kaduna State, was convicted on Wednesday by a Federal High Court sitting in Ilorin for unlawful possession of solid minerals said to be lepidolite in Kwara State.
The Ilorin Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, also docked another 50-year-old truck driver, Raheem Busari, over a similar offence.
Lepidolite, according to the anti-graft agency, is one of the raw materials which unlicensed mining operators usually transport to China through illegal means for the production of batteries for vehicles, cell phones, cameras and other electronic devices, an act punishable under Section 1(8) (b) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap M17, 1983.
The defendant, who was prosecuted before Justice Muhammed Sani of the Federal High Court in Ilorin upon arraignment in September 2022, pleaded not guilty to the charge, but changed his plea to “guilty” when the case came up for hearing Wednesday.
The charge sheet read; “That you, Nuhu Musa, sometime in September, 2022, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, without lawful authority, was found in a truck with registration number KCH177XA contrary to, and punishable under Section 1(8) (b) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap M17, 1983”
Following the “guilty plea”, counsel to the EFCC, Sesan Ola, reviewed the facts of the case and tendered the extrajudicial statements of the defendant, response from the Nigerian Geological Agency, including the particulars of the truck, which the court admitted in evidence.
Ola, thereafter urged the court to hold that the prosecution had established its case against the defendant to warrant his conviction.
Justice Sani, in his judgement said that the court found merit in the case of the prosecution and pronounced the defendant guilty.
The judge then sentenced Musa to four months imprisonment with the option of a fine of N200,000 and also ordered that the 40 tons of minerals recovered from the convict at the point of arrest be forfeited to the Federal Government.
In a related development, the Ilorin Zonal Command of the EFCC arraigned a 50-year-old truck driver, Raheem Busari, for allegedly being in possession of 30 tons of minerals.
However, Busari pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against him by the anti-graft agency.
The defendant’s counsel, Olabisi Salako, told the court that he had filed a bail application on behalf of his client and that the same had been served on the prosecution.
Responding, the prosecution counsel, Sesan Ola urged the court to allow him time to study and respond to the application.
Justice Sani, thereafter ordered that the defendant be remanded in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Centre pending the hearing of the bail application tomorrow, Thursday, June 22, 2023.