The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, was on Wednesday (today) ordered to produce the Chairman of Innosson Motors Limited, Innocent Chukwuma for arraignment.
The order was issued by a Lagos State Special Offences Court sitting at Ikeja, presided over by Justice Olusola Williams.
The judge arrived at the decision consequent upon the absence of the business mogul, who had earlier been slated for arraignment over allegation of forgery made against him by the anti-graft agency.
According to Justice Williams, “I believe it is the job of the prosecution to bring the defendant to court because they are the Executives.
“The judge is just to make an order that he should appear in court but we cannot enforce the order, the responsibility still lies on the EFCC to make sure he is in court.”
It would be recalled that Chukwuma had failed to appear before Justice Mojisola Dada of the same court.
This would be the sixth time the defendant refused to appear before the court.
His failure to appear before the court had equally prompted Justice Dada to declared the transport mogul wanted on the request of the EFCC.
But on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council, NJC, Justice Dada had to recuse herself after responding to the petition filed by Chukwuma against her on February 12, 2018.
The criminal matter was then re-assugned to Justice Williams for arraignment.
During proceedings on the matter today, lawyer to the EFCC, A.B.C Ozioko told Justice Williams that, “My lord, it appears that the second defendant and my learned colleagues from the other side are not in court.
“He has refused to come for his arraignment for the sixth time even when the matter was before your learned brother, Justice Dada despite all efforts to bring him here.
“He has also filed seven different applications in-between the period he was supposed to be arraigned.
“My lord, in view of the absence of the defendant, we shall be asking for an adjournment date.”
Before adjourning the matter until October 10, 2018, Justice Williams held that the Commission should do everything within its powers to ensure the production of Chukwuma in court.
Justice Williams said, “It is the prosecution’s duty to make sure the defendant is in court to answer his case.
“I can’t be issuing an order to a defendant that seems not to be existing.
“I will give you a date and anytime you are able to arrest the defendant, just inform the court registrars and bring him to court for arraignment.”
Specifically, Chukwuma alongside his firm, Innoson Motors Nigeria Limited were to be docked on a four-count charge of conspiracy to obtain property by false pretences, obtaining property by false pretences, stealing and forgery in a transaction with Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB).
The said offence was alleged to have been committed between 2009 and July 2011 in Lagos.
It was the contention of the anti-graft agency that the defendants with intent to defraud; conspired to obtain by false pretences containers of motorcycle, spare parts and raw materials, being property of GTBank from Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd, Apapa, Lagos.
The defendants were further alleged to have 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 GTBank by falsely pretending that they were authorised by the bank to clear the goods.
The prosecution claimed that the defendants in order to facilitate the fraud forged a bill of lading numbered 598286020 of Maersk Line Limited and 11007950841 of Mutsui O.S.K Lines by knowingly putting a false GTB stamp and signature of the bank staff.
The alleged forgery was in order that the forged documents be used or acted upon as genuine to the prejudice of any person within Lagos or elsewhere.
The offences contravened 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, Laws of Lagos State 2003.