Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, has ordered that two Chinese nationals, Taolung Shem, 36, and Xu Jing Yao, 22, and a Nigerian, Chinedu Madubuike, involved in a N5 billion tire fraud scheme be remanded in prison custody till Tuesday when the court will rule on their bail applications.
It would be recalled that the matter was brought to court on March 8, but could not move forward because the Chinese defendants did not have an interpreter available to translate the proceedings from English to Mandarin. Hence, an interpreter, Fred Zohng, who was sent from the Chinese consulate, then interpreted the charges to them in Mandarin.
The three defendants pleaded not guilty to a four-count criminal charge filed against them by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), after which their lawyers, Victor Opara and Napoleon Nwachukwu, who represented the Chinese nationals and Nigerian national, respectively, applied for their bail.
However, Yusuf Lawan, counsel for the office of the Attorney-General, said he has not had time to respond to the bail applications, as he had only recently been assigned to the case.
The judge then adjourned the matter till tomorrow, Tuesday, saying that by then, the prosecutor should have his counter-affidavit filed.
The complainant, the Federal Republic of Nigeria, accused the defendants of conspiring to import tires that did not meet Nigeria’s industrial standards.
One of the charges against the defendants reads: “That you, Taolung Shen 'M', Xu Jim Yao 'M', Sino Nigeria Limited, Nedeca International Limited, and Chinedu Madubuike 'M', sometime in the month of February 2017, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this honorable court, did conspire among yourselves and imported tires which did not comply with mandatory standards on account of your act of stuffing various sizes of tires into one, which makes the tires unfit for purpose and not complying with the mandatory standards, and thereby committed an offense contrary to and punishable under Sections 26(2)(b)(iii) of the Standards Organisation Act No. 14, 2015 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.”
According to the charge sheet, the alleged offense was committed last month in Lagos.
The defendants were also accused of failing to furnish returns on the condition of the imported tires as required by law, an offense contrary to and punishable under Section 32(1) of the SON Act.