Language barrier hinders re-arraignment of farmer over incest



A Federal High Court in Lagos was on Tuesday constrained to adjourn taking the plea of a 53-year-old farmer, Yesiru Onajobi, facing charges of incest.

Onajobi is being prosecuted by the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and other Related Matters (NAPTIP).

He is a resident of Bogije Street, Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos, and is standing trial on two counts of unlawful carnal knowledge of his teenage daughter.

When he was to be re-arraigned on Tuesday, the accused who understands Yoruba Language and Pidgin, informed the court that he had no legal representation and would want to defend himself.

The prosecutor, Mrs Halimat Balogun, did not oppose the request.

However, when count one was read to the accused, he retorted in Pidgin, “I no understand.”

Following this development, Justice Muslim Hassan ordered that a Yoruba interpreter be provided for the accused on the next adjourned date to enable the court to take his plea.

Hassan consequently fixed re-arraignment of the accused for Dec.19.

Hassan took over the case following the transfer of Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke before whom the farmer was arraigned on July 8, 2013

The farmer had pleaded not guilty before Aneke, who ordered his remand at the Ikoyi Prisons, pending his bail application.

The case was initially assigned to Justice Barbara Molokwu who was later transferred from the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court.
In the charge, the accused was accused of committing the offences in 2010.

The prosecution had told the court that after the death of his wife, the accused sexually assaulted his only daughter many times.

NAPTIP said that the accused intimidated and repeatedly had forceful carnal knowledge of his daughter, who eventually became pregnant for him.

The agency said that the offences contravened the provisions of Sections 13 (1) and 18 (a) of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement Act, 2003.