An Ikeja High Court yesterday issued a bench warrant of arrest against the Chairman of Innoson Motors Nigeria Limited, Innocent Chukwuma.
Innocent reacting to Justice Mojisola Dada’s order for his arrest issued by her court on Friday through the Head of Corporate Communications of the Innoson Group, Cornel Osigwe, said that the order for his arrest was done in bad faith because the judge did not grant the counsel to Innoson, Prof J.N Mbadugha Esq a fair hearing.
Saying: ‘It must be stated that based on the submission of Mr. Mbadugha, counsel to Innoson, the judge erred in law by making an order to issue a bench warrant against Innoson. The court is bound by law to listen and decide the applications submitted rather than making an order to arraign Innoson in a charge that is an abuse of process.
In the ruling by Justice Mojisola Dada, the court ordered that Chukwuma be produced in the next adjournment for probable arraignment over alleged forgery.
The decision of the court was due to his failure to appear before the court again for arraignment over the criminal matter pressed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in his face off with the Guaranty Trust Bank, GTB.
Justice Dada held, “A bench warrant is hereby served on Innocent Chukwuma, he will remain in custody till the next adjourned date.
“The case is adjourned till March 14 for possible arraignment,” Justice Dada said.
Earlier during the proceedings a mild drama ensued in the courtroom with Justice Dada threatening to charge Prof. J. N Mbadugha, the defence counsel for Innoson and Innoson Motors Ltd for contempt of court.
Mbadugha tendered an apology to the court “I am sorry My Lord, I hope the court gives me a second opportunity.
“I want to urge the court to temper justice with mercy, to err is human but to forgive is divine,” he said.
Charles Chukwuma, a third defendant who was also not present in court had no legal representation.
Addressing the court, the EFCC lead counsel, Mr A. B. C Ozioko, claimed that the automobile boss had been evading justice.
He said: “The first and second defendants (Innoson and his company) took the EFCC before the Senate for public hearing and the first defendant who represented his company was physically there.
“The defendants have respect for the National Assembly and no respect for this court.
“My learned friend (Mbadugha) is a lawyer and he wants to demean the integrity of this court.
“Mr Onwukwe a defence counsel for the first defendant was here in court on Jan. 17, this is a criminal charge and proceedings cannot hold until the defendant is present.
“The first and second defendant are not here because my learned friend advised them not to come to court.
“I want Your Lordship to compel the first and second defendants to come to court which is germaine for a criminal charge.
“We have gotten across to the third defendant (Charles Chukwuma) and we are ready to change the charge to reflect only the first and second defendant.
“We shall be applying for a bench warrant for the first and second defendant.”