Chairman of Innoson Motors, Innocent Chukwuma, was on Thursday, May 24, 2018,c declared wanted by Justice Mojisola Dada of an Ikeja Special Offences Court, Lagos for fraud.
Innoson whose arraignment for fraud was stalled on five different occasions was again not physically present in court to take his plea in the charges filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Nigerian Tribune recalls that Chukwuma and his company, Innoson Motors Nigeria Ltd, were accused by the EFCC for obtaining properties by false pretense, containers of motorcycle, spare parts and raw materials property of a Bank from Mitsui OSK Lines Limited, Apapa, Lagos.
Justice Dada however declared Innoson wanted following an application by the EFCC lawyer, A. B. C Ozioku to arrest Innosson and enforce the bench warrant issued by the court on February 9, 2018.
While addressing the court on Innosson’s flagrant disobedience of court order, Ozioku said that Innoson had no respect for the rule of law and has a high disregard for the court.
“I sincerely apologize to the court for all that is going on in this matter. This is the fifth time this matter is coming for arraignment and we are still saying the same thing,” Ozioku said.
Lamenting on the habitual absence of the defendant, the prosecutor said, “is he too big for the court? Is he too big for Nigeria and the Nigerian people that we don’t mean anything to him simply because he has money?
“Where is Innoson? Is he now bigger than Olisah Metuh or Senator Dino Melaye?”
Innoson’s Counsel, Professor J. N Mbadugha however reminded the judge of her decision not to take any application until the defendant is arraigned.
Mbadugha argued that there was a pending application filed by the defence team challenging the jurisdiction of the honorable court.
“At the last hearing on April 25, this honorable court maintained a position that the court could not take any of the 1st and 2nd defendants pending applications on the grounds that the 1st defendant has not been arraigned. We submitted that the court has a duty to take any application which challenges it’s jurisdiction or based on the abuse of process.”
Responding to the argument of the defence, Ozioku argued that Sections 4 of the EFCC’s Act forbids a stay of proceedings on any cases.
Ozioku said, “the defence team is busy fighting for an application to be heard without their clients being physically present in court. This motion from the defence team is unethical and unprofessional”.
Justice Dada further adjourned the matter till 22nd for possible arraignment.
EFCC alleged that Innoson fraudulently induced staff of Mitsui OSK and Maersk Line to deliver to them via their clearing agents the goods which were imported from China in the name of a Bank by falsely pretending that they were authorised by the bank to clear the goods.
The offences, according to the EFCC, are in contravention of Sections 1(1)(b), 1(3), and 8(a) of the Advanced Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act 2016 and Sections 309(9), 388, 465 and 467(1)(j) of the Criminal Code of Lagos State 2003.