The Federal Government yesterday urged the Federal High Court in Lagos to issue a bench warrant against Innoson Nigeria Limited’s Chairman, Innocent Chukwuma and two of his employees.
They were charged with alleged fraud before Justice Ayokunle Faji. The police charged them with an alleged N2.4b shipping fraud, but the Attorney-General of the Federation later took over the matter.
Others named in the charge are: Charles Chukwuma, Maximian Chukwura, Mitsui Osk Lines and Anajekwu Sunny.
The prosecution is praying the court to order the arrest of Innoson Motors Chairman and his workers for failing to take their pleas in a criminal charge. He and his employees were not in court yesterday.
Prosecuting counsel, Mr. Julius Ajakaiye, moved an application for the court to order the arrest of the defendants. The lawyer said the charge was served on them through a court-ordered February 8, 2016 substituted service, following the AGF’s take-over of the matter.
He said since then, the third and fourth defendants had been coming to court, while the first, second and fifth defendants “have refused, failed and neglected to appear in court till date”.
Ajakaiye said the defendants were yet to take their pleas and should be compelled to appear. The lawyer added that an April 12, 2016 amended charge could not be served on the absent defendants.
He urged the court to grant his application by ordering their arrest.
But defence counsel – Chief George Uwechue (SAN) and Prof. C. Mbadugha – prayed the court to dismiss the application. They argued that the court lacked jurisdiction to issue the warrant against the defendants “because they were not properly before the court”.
The lawyers said the application contradicted Order 6 of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules, adding that there was no proper service on their clients.
The prosecution accused the defendants of conspiring to unlawfully falsify shipping clearance documents.
They were also accused of “uttering” (presenting) the allegedly falsified shipping documents as collateral to Guaranty Trust Bank Plc to allegedly obtain a loan of N2.4 billion. The Government claimed that the defendants committed the offence at Apapa Wharf, Lagos, on October 10, 2013.
Justice Faji adjourned till July 3 for ruling.