Attempt by a Lagos-based businesswoman, Mrs. Olufunmilayo Esther Akinsanya, who is standing trial before a Federal High Court, Lagos, for allegedly counterfeiting Dangote Sugar, to plea bargain to the criminal charge, on Wednesday failed, as the court directed the prosecution to comply with the section of law guiding plea bargain.
The 75 years old businesswoman, alongside her company, Esther Olufunmilayo Nigeria Limited, were charged before the court by National Agency for Foods and Drugs Administration Control (NAFDAC), on six count charges of of importing unwholesome processed food, possession of same and packaging of unwholesome processed foods.
The defendants were also accused of selling the unwholesome processed foods items and that without lawful authority brought into Nigeria various brands of granulated Brazillian sugars which were not fortified with Vitamin ‘A’ and packaging the unregistered Brazilian sugar as granulated sugar.
NAFDAC in a charge marked FHC/L/293C/17, stated that the businesswoman committed the offence at her company located at 1, Tailor road, Iddo, Lagos, on August 2, 2017.
Some of the unfortified Brazillian sugars allegedly being repackaged into Dangote Sugar bags by the accused are: Aqucar Crystal Sugar, Aqucar Special Sugar Crystal Sugar and Usina Belavista Sugar.
The offences, according to the NAFDAC, are contrary to and punishable under sections 1(a), 5(a) and (b)1(1), of the food and drugs Act Cap. F32, LFN 2004, and punishable under Section 3(1)(a), 17(1) & (2), 6(1) &(2) and 8(1) & (2) of the same Act.
The accused had pleaded not guilty, and she had been admitted to bail.
At the resumed hearing of the matter today, the prosecutor, Mr. Umar Shamaki, informed the court of the plea bargain application dated February 22, and filed on February 23, 2018, which was served on him by lawyer to the accused.
Shamaki told the court that he is not opposing the plea bargain of the accused.
The prosecutor’s position was confirmed by Alex Nwokolo who led Nelson Fayehun for the accused.
Nwokolo told the court that they had acted in direction with the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).
But the presiding judge, Justice Faji, in ensuring that every processes are done in accordance to law, asked the prosecution if he had complied with Section 270 (1), of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015, before conceding to the accused plea bargain arrangement.
The judge told the prosecutor that according to the section of the law, the prosecution must be insufficient of witness or evidence, before agreeing on the application.
While the prosecutor told the court that the prosecution is ready to prove its case, as it has already concluded its case, the accused instead of cross-examine the prosecution witness, opted for plea bargain and that was why the prosecution is not opposing to the application.
The prosecutor however, asked for a short adjournment to enable him comply with section 270(1) of the ACJA, for the court to hear the accused plea bargain application.
During the trial, prosecution had called its witnesses, as well tendered exhibits recovered from the accused store.
The exhibits tendered including: samples of the Brazilian sugars, weighing machine, bundle of rope, an medium size generating plant, and others.
The matter has been adjourned till April 30.
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