By Lukman Olabiyi
Two Brazilians who were arrested in Lagos on Tuesday were yesterday arraigned before the Federal High Court, Lagos, for importing 23.895 kilogrammes of cocaine. They were subsequently remanded in prison custody.
The accused persons, Lima Pereira Erick Diego and Dias Dos Santos Marcia Cristina, according to the prosecutor, Mr. Abu Ibrahim, were arrested at the arrival hall of Murtala Muhammad International Airport, Lagos, on April 18, 2017, during inward clearance of passengers of an Emirates Airlines flight from Brazil.
In the charge, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) alleged that the two Brazilians conspired with one Benson Abiodun and others now at large to bring in the said banned drug into the country.
The first accused person, Diego, was alleged to have imported 14.495 kilogrammes of cocaine, while the second defendant, Cristina, was said to have imported 9.4 kilogrammes of the same substance.
The offences are contrary to and punishable under sections 14(b), 11(a) of the NDLEA Act, Cap N30, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
Upon the reading of the charge, which was interpreted by one Adeniran O., provided by the defendants’ embassy, the first defendant pleaded guilty to the charge of importing the drug, while the second defendant pleaded not guilty.
After the plea of the accused was taken, the NDLEA prosecutor urged the court to remand them in prison custody, pending trial.
But the defendants’ lawyers, Mr. O. G. Oyeleke (SAN) and Niyi Onifade, informed the court that they doubt the competence of the interpreter, despite the fact that he was provided by the accused persons’ embassy.
Their lawyers also informed the court that they were yet to be furnished with the proof-of-evidence of the matter, and that they were just briefed about the matter on Tuesday’s evening. Consequently, they urged the court to let the defence provide the interpreter, whose competence they will not doubt.
The defendants’ lawyers also urged the court to allow their client to be remanded in the custody of the NDLEA, pending hearing of the bail applications.
The prosecutor, on his part, urged the court to compel the court’s deputy chief registrar to provide an interpreter.
Ruling on the submissions of the parties, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun said the defendants should produce an interpreter of their choice at the next adjourned date.
According to him, the interpreter provided by the accused persons’ embassy must also be present when the charge will be re read to the defendants and their plea taken again.
Justice Olatoregun consequently adjourned the matter till May 15 and 16, 2017, for trial, but ordered that two Brazilians be remanded in prisons custody.