By Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja
A Federal High Court in Abuja has discharged and acquitted two Chinese – Hao Aijun and Liu Yangxi – and a Nigerian – Obi Anthony Chibuzor – who were charged with conspiracy, forgery and fraud.
The three, who are directors of BN Ceramics Industry Nigeria Limited, were in a 13-count charge, marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/77/2017 filed in the name of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) accused among others, of forging the company’s board’s resolutions.
At their arraignment, they pleaded not quilty, following which trial was conducted, during which the defendants made a no-case submission, which was partially upheld by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, leading to the striking out of eight out of the 13 counts.
The defendants subsequently entered defence in relation to the remaining five counts, following which Justice Dimgba gave his judgment discharging and acquitting them on the said counts.
Justice Dimgba on Wednesday upheld arguments by lawyer to Aijun and Yangxi, Akinlolu Kehinde (SAN) and counsel to Chibuzor, Anozie Obi that the prosecution, represented by M. O. Omosun, failed to prove its case.
Justice Dimgba said: “From the totality of the evidence given in this case most especially the testimony of prosecution witness (PW)1, PW2 and PW5 none of their testimony has been able to link the defendants with any act of forgery.
“Even the testimony of the handwriting experts and the reports of their findings, as manifested in Exhibits HA4, HA5, HA11 and HA13, did not link the defendants to the document, the signature of the PW1 said to have been forged.”
The judge added that the prosecution failed to call necessary witnesses, who would have supplied vital evidence.
“Consequent on the above, I hereby find the defendants not guilty of the charges preferred against them.
“I hold that the prosecution has failed to prove the offence of conspiracy against the defendants by the standard required by law, which is beyond reasonable doubt and I hereby discharge and acquit the defendants on count one.
“I discharge and acquit the 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants on counts two, three and four because, from all that I have said, it is obvious that the prosecution has not discharged the burden placed on them to prove the offences beyond reasonable doubt.
“I also hereby discharge and acquit the 3rd defendant on count five for the same reasons and add that the offence of uttering cannot be sustained when there is no forgery established,” Justice Dimgba held.
The police had filed the charge upon a complaint by one of BN Ceramics’ directors, Zhang Xing, following a boardroom disagreement.
In an earlier judgment, Justice Donatus Okorowo (also of the Federal High Court) stuck out the civil suit, marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/606/2016 filed against other directors of BN Ceramics by Xing.
Listed as defendants in the suit were: BN Ceramics, Hao Aijun, Chen Enlai, Liu Yangxi, Zhang Qide and the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
Justice Okorowo held that the suit was incompetent and that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear it, the plaintiff having failed to comply with the condition precedent to initiating such an action.
Meanwhile, parties have since resolved their differences and endorsed a settlement agreement, which terms included the cessation of all hostilities and Xing’s exit from the company.
The terms of settlement have since been adopted by the parties and they have all moved on with their lives.o
Part of the terms in the settlement agreement include:
*Zhang Xing shall withdraw all complaints and any legal action/matter instituted against BN Ceramics Industry Nig. Ltd, its directors, shareholders, agents and affiliates and shall, at no point in future institute any legal action against BN Ceramics Industry Nig. Ltd & its aforementioned affiliates whether in Nigeria or China including the criminal appeal before the Court of Appeal, Abuja judicial division – CA/A/576C/2019 Inspector General of Police & 2 others.
*Zhang Xing has agreed to peacefully exit the company and shall no longer be a director or shareholder of the BN Ceramics Industry Nig. Ltd. Also, Zhang Xing is no longer willing to proceed against any of the directors/shareholders of the BN Ceramics Industry Nig Ltd in any capacity.
*These terms of settlement shall be deemed as final settlement between all parties and shall be binding on all parties.”