Two Chinese Nationals and a Nigerian have been arraigned for engaging in deforestation and illegal mining in Garbabi area of Gashaka local council, Taraba State.
They were arrested by the Taraba State Task Force on illegal mining and deforestation activities.
The suspects alongside one Nigerian were arraigned before a Magistrate Court in Jalingo, the state capital for violating Executive Order no.5 of 2023 of the state government which temporary prohibit all illegal mining and deforestation activities throughout the state.
One of the suspects, Olatunde Nathaniel, a Nigerian, said contrary to claims by the taskforce, they were carrying out their activities legally with a registered company paying taxes to some ministries in the state.
“When the taskforce came, they met me together with them and they asked me what role I played in the factory and I told them I’m the factory manager, they said I have to go with them,” he told the court.
Nathaniel added that they have been operating for a long time “and are duely registered. We started since 2017 with the construction of the factory and we start real work in 2018.”
Their trials, WikkiTimes learnt was stalled due to absence of interpreter as the Chinese nationals do not understand English language hence the court adjourned to September 4 and ordered for provision of interpreter.
Neirus Johnson, the sate counsel said he has no objections to the court order, saying this would pave way for fair hearing and trial of the accused.
“We had a road block, we couldn’t proceed, the Chinese nationals do not understand the language of the court which is English language. And because of issues of interpretation are issues that got to the root of the matter, fair trial and hearing,” he said.
“The prosecution was compelled to seek for an adjustment so as to enable the court get the attendance of an interpreter that will interprete to the defendants what is going on in the court so as to enable them have a fair hearing,” Johnson added.
On his his part, Bakari Ibrahim counsel to the defendants said presence of competent interpreter would avail justice to his clients.
The Taraba mobile court on deforestation and illegal mining activities had arrested over 3,500 illegal miners, prosecuted 49 persons for engaging in deforestation and over 32 others for illegal mining.