The two Chinese nationals, Taolung Shem, 36, and Xu Jing Yao, 22, and a Nigerian, Chinedu Madubuike, arrested last month by Standard Organisation of Nigeria, SON, monitoring and enforcement team for allegedly importing sub-standard tyres were, yesterday, arraigned before the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos.
The plea for the defendants, who appeared before Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, could not be taken due to the absence of an interpreter.
In a five-count charge filed against the defendants by the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, the accused were alleged to have conspired among themselves and imported tyres which did not meet the relevant Nigerian industrial standards, knowing same to be in dangerous state or injurious to life of human beings.
Another charge against the defendants reads: “That you, Taolung Shen, Xu Jim Yao, Sino Nigeria Limited, Nedeca International Limited and Chinedu Madubuike, sometime in the month of February, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, did conspire among yourselves and imported tyres, which did not comply with mandatory standards on account of your act of stuffing various sizes of tyres into one.
“This makes the tyres to be unfit for purpose and not complying with the mandatory standard and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Sections 26(2)(b)(iii) of the Standards Organisation Act No. 14, 2015 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”
However, when the matter was called for hearing, the prosecutor from the AGF’s office, Babatunde Alajogun, informed the court that the matter is for arraignment of the defendants. One of the defence lawyers, Mr. Victor Okpara, told the court that one of the defendants does not speak English, that he had contacted the Chinese consulate in Lagos for an interpreter, who will relay the charge to the accused persons.
Responding, the prosecutor said he was not aware that the defendants cannot speak English, he therefore asked the court to remand the defendants in prison’s custody, pending when their plea will be taken. The trial judge, Justice Olatoregun, turned down the request and ordered that the accused should remain in police custody till March 28, when their plea will be taken.