The arraignment of a Chinese man accused of murdering his Nigerian ex-girlfriend has stalled due to a lack of an interpreter, according to local reports.
Geng Quanrong, 47, is facing a homicide charge after allegedly stabbing his 22-year-old ex-lover, Ummukulsum "Ummita" Buhari, on Sept. 16. He reportedly confessed to the crime, saying Buhari broke her promise to marry him even after he had spent so much money on her.
Geng was initially arraigned before a Magistrate court on Sept. 21. However, the judge adjourned the case due to a lack of jurisdiction.
The Kano State High Court then took over the case. Geng was re-arraigned on Sept. 26, but the hearing was adjourned once again because he had no legal representation.
Geng appeared before the court for the third time on Tuesday. His lawyer, Muhammad Dan'azumi, requested an interpreter, citing an accused person's constitutional right to communication in a language they understand.
"My Lord, the defendant is not a Nigerian," Dan'azumi told the court. "The English of the court is a unique language and the defendant needs to understand the charges he is standing trial on."
Prosecutors had anticipated the issue. Kano State Attorney General Musa Abdullahi-Lawan told the court that he had ordered the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to reach the Chinese Embassy, as well as the Chinese community in Kano, to request for an interpreter on Geng's behalf.
"The issue of [an] interpreter … is a constitutional issue, and after the last adjournment, we wrote a letter to the Chinese Embassy requesting for one, because we expected this to happen. I am sure they will do that," Abdullahi-Lawan said. "That is why we adjourned the matter to at least three weeks. Ordinarily, it's supposed to be a week."
Although foreign defendants are permitted under Nigerian law to contact their respective consulates and ask for assistance, it is unclear whether Geng has been in touch with the Chinese Embassy.
Geng's hearing has been adjourned to Oct. 27. He remains held at the Kano Correctional Center.
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