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Language barrier stalls trial of five Guineans alleged Elephant, Pangolin smugglers

By News desk

The inability of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos to get a translator has stalled the scheduled arraignment of five Guinean nationals alleged to be involved in smuggling and the court has adjourned the case for further hearing.

The five nationals that were remanded by the judge presiding over the case, Justice Nicholas Oweibo, until Aug. 26, to make provision for an interpreter were identified as Murybine Berete, Traore Djakouba, Isiaka Musa, Mohammed Berete, and Sediki Berete.

Speaking to newsmen after the court adjourned, Smart Akande, Legal Adviser to the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), disclosed that they were apprehended for smuggling pangolins.

“Today we are in court to arraign the suspects but unfortunately, we could not proceed because some of them are foreigners and they are supposed to understand the charges before them.

“The chargers should be read in a language they understand so that they can give a plea. Because the interpreter was not available due to the fact that the court does not have the facility today, the matter was adjourned to Aug. 26 for arraignment, hoping that the interpreter will be present to interpret the charges to them,” he added.

Akande noted that the court had ordered that the suspects be remanded in customs custody pending the arraignment, saying the suspects are being charged for four-count of being concerned with exporting contraband goods, concerned with storage, loading, and bringing in the contraband

“In other words, for them to have exported, they must have loaded it somewhere and this is an offence, bringing it and storing it somewhere are offences and they carry some penalty and that is why we are here,” he said.

The counsel to the defendants, Olayinka Lawal, also collaborated the response of Akande on the issue of adjournment which was due to the defendants not understanding any Nigerian language as well as the court language.

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