Justice Ayotunde Faji of the Federal High Court, Lagos, yesterday, ordered the arrest the chairman of Innoson Motors, Mr. Innocent Chukwuma, and two others for their persistent refusal to appear before him to face charges slammed against them by the Inspector-General of Police (IGP).
Others affected by the order are Charles Chukwu and Anajekwu Sunny.
The court gave 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, Anajekwu Sunny and a shipping company, Mitsui Osk Lines, were charged before the court sometimes in December 2015, by the IGP through the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation.
Innocent and others were slammed with a four-ount 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.
Since the charge was filed, only the shipping company appeared in court while Mr. Chukwuma and others have persistently failed to appear before the court to take their plea. Consequently, the prosecutor, Mr. Julius Ajakaiye, had on 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 Section 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, 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 Chukwuma, Chukwu, and Sunny’s appeals, consequently, giving room for the court to rule on the motion for their arrest yesterday.
While ruling on the motion for the arrest of the defendants , Justice Faji held that: “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 issued 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 prosecution team alongside Mr. Ajakaiye, who has been handling the matter, applied to the 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, 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 Chukwuma and others had between January 2010 and April 2011, at Apapa Wharf, Lagos, criminally conspired among 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 for the production of roof ceiling and other imported items.
They were also alleged to have without lawful authority and with intent to defraud, altered the shipping clearance documents to 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.