…over alleged N2.4bn forgery
Justice Ayokunle Faji of a Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the arrest of the Chairman of Innoson Group, Dr. Innocent Chukwuma, over his refusal to show up in court to answer to a criminal charge filed against him by the Inspector-General of Police (IGP).
Others affected by the order are: Charles Chukwu and Anajekwu Sunny.
The IGP, through the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, had, sometimes in December 2015, slammed a four-count charge of alleged conspiracy, forgery and fraud to the tune of N2.4 billion on the trio alongside Innoson Motors Nigeria Limited and a shipping company, Mitsui Osk Lines.
However, since the filing of the charge, only the shipping company had shown up in court while the Innoson boss and others have never appeared.
A motion for issuance of bench warrant was subsequently filed and argued by a Deputy Director in the Ministry of Justice, Julius Ajakaiye.
The motion was filed pursuant to Sections 113, 114 and 395 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015.
While both the charge and the motion for the arrest warrant were pending at the Federal High Court, the Innoson boss and other defendants filed two appeals at the Court of Appeal challenging filing of the charge and motion.
The appellate court, while discharging Innoson Motors of the charge, dismissed Innocent Chukwuma, Charles Chukwu, and Anajekwu Sunny’s appeals, consequently giving room for the lower court to rule on the motion for the arrest warrant.
In a ruling on the motion for the arrest warrant, Justice Faji declared that the prosecution’s motion has merit.
“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 ordered to be issued against the first defendant, Innocent Chukwuma, second defendant, Charles Chukwu and the third defendant, Anajekwu Sunny,” the judge held.
After the ruling, the prosecution sought for a date to arraign the defendants considering the length of time that the charge has been filed.
Following the request, Justice Faji fixed Friday for the defendants’ arraignment.
In the four-count amended charge marked FHC/L/565C/2015, it was alleged that Innocent Chukwuma 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, alter 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 altered shipping documents and presented same to Guaranty Trust Bank Plc. to obtain a loan of N2.4 billion.
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