Absence of witnesses stalls trial of Chinese charged with forgery of rice brand in Nigeria

High Court

The accused is standing trial on a four-count charge bordering on fraud, forgery, unlawful possession and stealing.

The absence of two prosecution witnesses at a Federal High Court in Lagos, Wednesday, stalled the trial of a Chinese, Hong Dong Shen.

Mr. Shen is charged with the forgery of Mama Gold Rice brand.

The accused is standing trial on a four-count charge bordering on forgery, fraud, unlawful possession and stealing.

When the case was mentioned, the prosecutor, Daniel Apochi, informed the court that the prosecution witnesses were absent in court, recalling that they were informed of the case.

He, therefore, prayed the court for an adjournment, to secure the attendance of the witnesses in court.

The Defence Counsel, Tokunbo Fayemi, raised an objection to the prayer of the prosecution, arguing that the matter had suffered a series of adjournments at their instance.

He also prayed the court for an order striking out the charge against the accused.

The trial judge, Justice Mohammed Yunusa, in a short ruling, urged the prosecution to exhibit more diligence in the trial.

“This is a criminal charge in which the liberty of an accused is at stake, and so, should be treated with all seriousness by the prosecution,” he said.

Mr. Yunusa, therefore, adjourned the case till March 28, at the instance of prosecution.

The accused, who was arraigned on July 29, pleaded not guilty to the charge.

The judge had granted Mr. Shen bail in the sum of N2 million, with two sureties in like sum, and ordered him to deposit his travelling documents with the court’s registry.

The prosecutor had told the court that the accused committed the offence between February 2011 and March 2013.

He said Mr. Shen forged the trade mark of Ollam Nig. Ltd., producers of Mama Gold Rice, and had fraudulently reproduced about 140 bags for illegal sale to members of the public.

According to the prosecutor, the trade mark is valued at N200 million.

The alleged offence contravenes the provisions of sections 390 (9) and 516 of the Criminal Code Act, Laws of the Federation, 2004 and violates Sections 3 and 32 of the Merchandise Act, 2004.

Section 390(9) provides for a term of seven years imprisonment for the offence of stealing.


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