The scheduled arraignment on Friday of Innocent Chukwuma, known popularly as Innoson, at an Ikeja Special Offences Court has suffered a setback, following the withdrawal of Justice Mojisola Dada from the case.
Chukwuma is the Chief Executive Office of Innoson Motors Nig. Ltd.
Dada was withdrawn from the case on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council, responding to the February 12 petition of the automobile boss.
Innoson’s petition was entitled: “Request to Investigate the Circumstances Leading to Justice Mojisola Dada of Lagos State High Court Issuing a Bench Warrant Against Chief Innocent Chukwuma and Ordering His Arrest”.
The NJC’s response, made available to the News Agency of Nigeria disclosed that the council in a meeting held on March 9, had absolved Dada of any wrongdoing.
“At the end of deliberation, council did not find any act of misconduct on the part of the judge.
“However, if the case is still pending before Justice M. A. Dada, same will be returned to the Chief Judge for re-assignment to another judge,” the letter, signed by Ahmed Saleh, the Secretary to the NJC, said.
Sources in the court, who pleaded anonymity, revealed to NAN that following the NJC’s order, the case file had already been returned to Justice Opeyemi Oke, the Chief Judge of Lagos State, for re-assignment.
When the latest development came to light, prosecutors from the EFCC and Innoson’s defence counsel had to leave the courtroom, after waiting for over two hours for proceedings to begin.
NAN reports that series of courtroom drama had trailed the case as efforts by the EFCC to arraign the automobile boss on five occasions had proved abortive.
Following Innoson’s non-appearance in court for the fifth time on May 23, Dada had declared him wanted, following the request of the anti-graft agency.
Chukwuma and his company, Innoson Motors Nig. Ltd., were to be arraigned on a four-count charge of conspiracy to obtain property by false pretence; obtaining property by false pretence; stealing and forgery in a transaction with Guaranty Trust Bank.
According to the charge sheet, the defendants committed the offences between 2009 and July 2011 in Lagos.
EFCC alleged that the defendants with intent to defraud conspired to obtain by false pretence, containers of motorcycle, spare parts and raw materials, property of GTB from Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd., Apapa, Lagos.
They were alleged to have fraudulently induced staff of Mitsui O.S.K. and Maersk Lines 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 lading numbered 598286020 of Maersk Lines Ltd. and 11007950841 of Mutsui O.S.K. Lines, by knowingly putting a false GTB stamp and signature of the bank staff.
The alleged forgery was in order that the forged documents be used or acted upon as genuine, to the prejudice of any person within Lagos or elsewhere.
The offences contravened Sections 1(1)(b), 1(3), and 8(a) of the Advanced Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, 2016 and Sections 309(9), 388, 465 and 467(1)(j) of the Criminal Code, Laws of Lagos State, 2003.