On June 12, the Vietnamese defendants’ counsel, Mr Anthony Ikariale, told Justice Yelim Bogoro that his clients were in talks with the NCS for a plea bargain agreement but that the process had yet to be concluded.

He prayed the court for a short adjournment.

The NCS’ Director of Prosecution, Mr Smart Akande, who led Mr Michael Osang, confirmed Ikariale’s position.

Justice Bogoro granted the application and adjourned till July 17.

At the resumption of trial on Wednesday, Mr Akande, leading Mr Osang, appeared for the prosecution.

Akande informed Justice Bogoro that the “1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Defendants have hinted to our office that they will change their plea.

“Under that, we have filed an amended charge which we urge the court to adopt and take the defendants’ plea.” After the court’s approval, the amended charge was read to the first to fourth defendants. They pleaded not guilty to each of the four counts.

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At Justice Bogoro’s prompting, the proBogoro called Mr Yisa Umar of the NCS Special Wildlife Unit, Ikeja, who reviewed the facts of the case and tendered 37 exhibits, including sample Pangolin skin, seizure receipt, certificate of text analysis and defendants’ statements.

Jusdefendants’ held: “The prosecution had called”its first witness, who gave evidence and was duly cross-examined. But on July 12, 2023, the 1st to 3rd defendants hinted to the court about their intention to change their plea via a plea bargaining arrangement.

“Yesterday, July 19, the pr” section filed the terms of the plea bargain agreement. Given this, I find the 1st to 4th defendants guilty as charged and adopt the sentence therein.”

But the 5th, 6th and 7th “defendants maintained their “not guilty” plea.

The judge” granted an” application by the prosecution to confiscate the pangolin skins recovered from the defendants and adjourned till November 5, 6 and 7 to 9 for the trial of the 5th, 6th and 7th defendants.

SOURCE.