Innocent Chukwuma Innoson

Innoson Motors and its chairman, Innocent Chukwuma, have given reasons for their absence in a criminal trial, saying they were not aware the forgery and fraud trial had been assigned to another judge.

In December, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) charged Mr Chukwuma and his company to court, alleging that they defrauded Guaranty Trust Bank.

However, attempts to arraign the accused persons at various times failed as defence lawyers insisted that the case constituted an abuse of court process as similar charge is before another court.

The presiding judge, Mojisola Dada, however insisted that the accused be docked to take their pleas.

Mr Chukwuma then petitioned the National Judicial Council (NJC) alleging bias.

The NJC said it saw nothing wrong in Ms Dada’s actions but ruled that the case be reassigned to another judge.

But when the case came up before Justice Olushola Williams on Wednesday, neither Mr Chukwuma nor his lawyers were in court.

The judge adjourned the trial to October 10.

In a statement on Friday, however, head of corporate communications of Innoson Group, Cornel Osigwe, said the defence team was not aware of the reassignment.

He said the absence of Mr Chukwuma and his lawyers from the court was not deliberate.

“The Legal representatives of Innoson are not aware that the case has been reassigned to another Judge because as at today, neither Innoson nor his legal representatives was served with any hearing notice nor any notice informing them that the Chief Judge of Lagos State has reassigned the case” he said.

Mr Osigwe said none of their lawyers was served with any notice informing them that the case was coming up on July 4.

“Given that neither Innoson nor its solicitors were informed of the reassignment of the case to Honourable Justice Olushola Williams nor the hearing date, they could not have appeared before the court. Now, the question maybe asked if they were to appear, before which court will they appear and on which date?”

Mr Osigwe noted that Mr Chukwuma has “overtime earned a tremendous reputation for excellence, integrity, corporate best practices and strict adherence to the highest standards of ethics in global business and has stated at various instances, that he is not afraid of arraignment but must be arraigned through due process of the law.

“Innocent Chukwuma is confident that the Nigerian judiciary is impartial, and will not conduct itself in a manner which is alien to the laws judges exist to interpret and defend and will therefore not pander to the whims of individuals and groups whose stock in trade and customs is to approach equity with smeared hands and seek to trick the judiciary into miscarrying justice.”

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