Law News
Fake products: Absence of interpreter stalls trial of Chinese men

The absence of an interpreter on Wednesday stalled the arraignment of two Chinese nationals, Mr Zhoung Li Xin and Mr Zhoung Guomin at the Federal High Court, Abuja.

The Standards Organisation of Nigeria’s ( SON ) accused the two of marking some unapproved products as genuine.

The accused persons had demonstrated to the court that they could only speak in their native mandarin.

The charge had claimed that Zhoung Li Xin and Mr Zhoung Guomin placed an “ABB” mark on receptacle containing products marked as Chiko and Toyou.

The Prosecution therefore alleged that the accused persons committed an offence under Section 378 of the Penal Code Law Cap. 89 Law of the Northern Nigeria.’’

Mr Joseph Olofindare, Counsel to SON, said the defendants’ actions of making false mark on products and making such products to be believed to be of a particular quality was a breach of the law.

He said the alleged action was with the intent to defraud the innocent public.

“Likely punishment is three years imprisonment with or without fine’’, he said.

On why an arrangement was not made for an interpreter for the defendants, Olofindare said it was his conviction that the defendants could speak English language.

“We are aware that the defendants spoke English before now, but they denied speaking or understanding English when we got to the court.

“At the appropriate time that will be sorted out and the interest of justice which we are concerned with will be served.

“The interest of SON is to get rid of foreigners with the intention of bringing substandard items that may have negative impact on the citizens.

“The mandate of SON is to move against that and to ensure that all the perpetrators are brought to book’’, Olonfindare said.

On his part, Mr Amaechi Muonagor,  Counsel to the defendants, said his clients were not aware the case was coming up as they were served with the court process on the evening of December 19.

He also said there was no preliminary arrangement for an interpreter.

According to him, the prosecution has the false impression that the defendants could speak and understand English language.

“We were prepared for the trial any way, except that there was no interpreter to interpret the language of the court to the defendants.

“I normally communicate with them through an interpreter but what happened was that we did not liaise with SON to provide an interpreter because of the short notice to appear in court’’, he said.

He said however, that the defendants were presently enjoying administrative bail.

He said it was the right of the defendants to be heard in the language they understand, adding that the prosecution and the defendants’ counsel had agreed to interface to make that happen.

The presiding Justice Sadiq Umar, had earlier ordered the parties to ensure the defendants were provided with an interpreter to facilitate the trial.

However, no date was fixed for the commencement of the trial.

NAN

The Nation