By Sandra Umeh
A Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday fixed Jan. 29, 2019, to hear a motion seeking bench warrant against the Chief Executive Officer of Innoson Nig. Ltd., Innocent Chukwuma, and others charged with forgery.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Federal Government, through the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation had filed a four-count charge of forgery against the accused in charge number FH/L/565C/1.
The accused are: Innoson Nig. Ltd., Innocent Chukwuma, Charles Chukwu, Maximian Chukwura, Mitsui Osk Lines ‘C’ and Anajekwu Sunny.
They are alleged to have conspired to commit offences on Oct. 10, 2013, at Apapa, Lagos.
At the last adjourned date on Nov. 9, the court adjourned until Friday (today) for hearing of a motion seeking bench warrant against the accused.
The case, however, could not proceed on Friday as scheduled following the absence of defence counsel, Prof. Macarthy Mbadugha, who is said to be on a medical trip abroad.
Justice Ayokunle Faji consequently adjourned the case until Jan. 29, 2019, for hearing.
In the charge, the prosecution said that the accused falsified shipping documents, which they deposited with Guaranty Trust Bank Plc as collateral for a N2.4 billion loan to Innoson Nig. Ltd.
The shipping documents were also alleged to have been falsely presented as genuine and with intent to defraud in order to clear goods worth N2.4 billion.
According to the charge sheet, the offences contravene the provisions of Sections 1(2) (c) and 3(6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, 2004.
The judge had on Jan. 11, stayed proceedings in the case, pending the outcome of an appeal filed by the defence at the Supreme Court.
During a court sitting, however, the prosecutor, Mr Julius Ajakaiye from the Federal Ministry of Justice, informed the court of an earlier decision of the Court of Appeal which, he argued, dismissed the defence’s appeal for stay of proceedings.
Citing the provisions of Sections 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, and the case of Federal Republic of Nigeria versus Olisa Metu, Ajakaiye urged the court to vacate its earlier order to await the decision of the Supreme Court and order hearing of prosecution’s motion for bench warrant against the accused.
The court consequently vacated the order and set a date for hearing of the prosecution’s motion for bench warrant.