A Lagos State High Court yesterday struck out the fraud case filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against Innocent Chukwuma, the founder of Innoson Motors Limited.
According to Justice Olusola William, it was due to the inability of the prosecution to produce him in court for arraignment.
The judge, while striking out the matter, said a criminal matter could always be instituted whenever the prosecution is prepared.
He said: “The prosecution is well aware that it is its duty to produce a defendant in court. This court is not inclined to continue to waste the tax of Lagos taxpayers. And cannot continue to waste precious time calling a case that is going nowhere.”
The judge also said that, “It is a criminal matter that can be instituted anytime. I advice that the prosecution get its acts together before coming to court. I am inclined to strike out this case and I so do.”
Mr Chukwuma and his company, Innoson Motors, were first brought before Mojisola Dada of an Ikeja Special Offences Court on January 17 but they failed to appear before the court in all the adjourned dates. The case was transferred to Justice Williams after Mr Chukwuma’s lawyers wrote a petition against Mrs Dada asking her to recuse herself from the trial. Mr Chukwuma and his company, Innoson Motors Nigeria Ltd., were to be arraigned on a four-count charge of conspiracy to obtain property by false pretence, stealing and forgery in a transaction with Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB). According to the charge, the defendants committed the offences between 2009 and July 2011 in Lagos.
The EFCC alleged that the defendants had intent to defraud and conspired to obtain by false pretence containers of motorcycles spare parts and raw materials, properties of GTB from Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd, Apapa, Lagos.
They were 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 GTB 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 Laden 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.