March 28, 2023

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Absence of translator stalls arraignment of five foreigners involved in smuggling of pangolin scales

The absence of a translator in court on Wednesday stalled the arraignment of five Guineans arrested by officials of the Nigeria Customs Service for allegedly trying to smuggle N22.3bn worth of Pangolin scales and elephant tusks.

The accused were supposed to have been arraigned at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, on a four-count charge raging from collecting, loading, exporting, transporting and keeping different kilogrammes of pangolin scales and elephant risk worth N22.3 billion.

The accused are Troare Djakonba, Muyribein Bereye, Isiaka Musa, Mohammed Bereta, and Sediki Berete

Briefing news men after the exercise, the Nigeria Customs Service Legal Adviser, Smart Akande, said the absence in court of a translator stalled the arraignment of the accused persons.

He said the accused are all Guinean national and that the charges are expected to be read to the accused in a language they understand.

Akande, said Thursday, August 26, 2021, has been set for a fresh arraignment and that hopefully a translator would be in court to read out the charges to all the accused persons.

“The charges are to be read to the accused in a language they understand. Because of this, the trial Judge, Justice Nicholas Oweigbo, graciously asked that the accused be brought back on August 26,” he said.

Recalled that the NCS, had on August 4, 2021, arrested three persons with different kilograms of pangolin scales and elephant tusks worth N22.3 billion in Lagos.

While displaying the seizures to newsmen in Lagos, the Comptroller General of Customs, Hammed Ali, said the 17,137.44 kilograms of pangolin scales (196 sacks), 870.44 kilograms of elephant tusks and 4.60 kilograms of pangolin claws were evacuated at a location on eastern side of Ijeoma Street, Lekki, Lagos State after proper examination.

According to him, NCS’s extensive collaboration yielded credible intelligence that triggered swift and comprehensive actions by the Customs Intelligence Unit and Headquarters Strikeforce.