Court sets Chinese woman free four years after setting Lagos hotel ablaze

A 47-year-old Chinese woman, Zhen Zhen, was on Friday set free by an Ikeja High Court, Lagos four years after setting ablaze a section of a hotel located in Ikeja, Lagos.

Zhen, a former inmate at the Kirikiri Female Prisons, regained her freedom after she entered a plea bargain agreement dated April 24 with the Lagos State Ministry of Justice.

Zhen was earlier charged on a one count of arson, contrary to Section 341 of the Criminal Law of Lagos 2011.

Upon the plea bargain, the charge were thereafter amended and read to her as she pleaded guilty to the charge of causing willful damage to property contrary to Section 350 of the Criminal Law of Lagos 2015.

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While delivering judgment, Justice Hakeem Oshodi held that Zhen had served more than the two-year sentence recommended in the plea bargain agreement.

“The defendant has shown remorse and has been in prison custody for more than two years.

“The court is satisfied that the defendant understands the charge she pleaded guilty to and therefore accepts her plea of guilt.

“The defendant, Zhen Zhen, having spent two years in prison custody, the court hereby orders that she be released forthwith from prison custody today.

“This is the judgment of the court,” Justice Oshodi said.

Following the judgment, a Chinese interpreter interpreted the judgment to Zhen in Mandarin.

Zhen, upon hearing that she was now a free woman, smiled and clapped in relief and joy.

Earlier the state prosecutor, Mr. Tiwaloju Aderoju, said the Chinese woman committed the offence on July 5, 2015 at Ernest Place, a hotel located at No. 28, Bamishile St., Allen Avenue, Lagos.

“The defendant willfully set fire to the building of Mr. Ernest Uwaneyem and destroyed part of the building,” Aderoju said.