A Federal High Court, Lagos, today, ordered the arrest of Mr. Innocent Chukwuma, the Innoson Motors boss, and two others, for their persistence failure or refusal to attend court to answer a criminal charge against them by the Inspector-General of Police (IGP).
Others affected by the order are: Charles Chukwu and Anajekwu Sunny.
Justice Ayotunde Faji made the order while delivering ruling in a motion for their arrest filed by the IGP through the Federal Ministry of Justice.
Innocent alongside his firm, Innoson Motors Nigeria Limited Company, Charles Chukwu, and Anajekwu Sunny and a shipping company, Mitsui Osk lines have been charged before the court sometime in December 2015, by the IGP through the office of Attorney-General of the Federation.
Innocent and Others were slammed with a four count-charge bordering on conspiracy, forgery and fraud to the tune of N2.4 billion in the charge marked FHC/L/565c/2015, filed by the prosecutor, Mr. Julius Ajakaiye, a Deputy Director in the Ministry of Justice,
But since the charge was filed, only the shipping company attended court while Mr. Innocent Chukwuma and others have persistently failed to appear before court to take their plea on the charge.
Following the failure of Mr. Innocent Chukwuma and others to appear before the court to take their plea on the charges, the prosecutor, Mr. Julius Ajakaiye, a Director in the Ministry of justice had on February 11, 2017, filed and argued the motion for bench warrant against Innocent and others.
Ajakaiye had informed the court that the warrant of arrest was pursuant to sections 113, 114 and 395 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015.
While both the charge and the motion for the defendants’ arrest warrant were pending at the Federal High Court, Mr. Innocent Chukwuma and other defendants filed two appeals at the Court of Appeal challenging the service of the charge and the warrant of arrest on them.
The appeal court while discharging Innoson Motors of the charge, dismissed Innocent Chukwuma, Charles Chukwu, and Anajekwu Sunny’s appeals, consequently, giving room for the court to rule the motion for their arrest today.
While ruling on the motion for the arrest of the defendants today, Justice Faji held: “the issues raised by the defendants can only come up after their pleas have been taken. The prosecution application has merit.
“Consequently, warrant of arrest is hereby order to be issue against the first defendant, Innocent Chukwuma, second defendant, Charles Chukwu and the third defendant, Anajekwu Sunny”.
After the ruling, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN) who had just come in as part of the part of prosecution team alongside Mr Julius Ajakaiye, who had been handling the matter applied to court for a date to arraign the defendants due to the age of the charge.
Ayorinde told the court that the charge has been filed since 2015.
Following the request of Ayorinde and Ajakaiye, Justice Faji, fixed Friday, for arraignment of the defendants.
The prosecution in a four-count amended criminal charge marked FHC/L/565C/2015, alleged that Mr. Innocent and others have between January 2010, and April 2011, at Apapa Wharf criminally conspired amongst themselves to wit, falsification of shipping documents which they deposited with Mitsui Osk Lines Lagos which was used as collateral for the purpose of clearance of raw materials polyinlchloride (PVC) for the production of roof ceiling and other imported items.
They were also alleged to have without lawful authority and with intent to defraud, utter the shipping clearance documents to the shipping Line Mitsui Osk Lines which was used as collateral for the purpose of obtaining a loan of N2.4 billion from Guaranty Trust bank Plc for the purpose of clearing raw materials Polyvinylchloride for the production of roof ceiling and other imported items
The prosecution also accused the defendants of falsely and fraudulently represented as genuine, the uttered shipping documents and presented same to Guaranty Trust bank Plc to obtain a loan of N2.4 billion.
The offences according to the prosecution, are contrary to and punishable under sections 3(6),1(2)(C) of the miscellaneous offences Act Cap. M 17 Laws of the Federation, 2004.