The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has vowed to ensure that the Chairman, Innoson Motors Nigeria Limited, Innocent Chukwuma is arrested to face fraud charges in court.
The Commission gave the assurance, after Justice Olusola Williams of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, struck out the case of fraud it instituted against Chukwuma because the EFCC failed to produce Chukwuma in court to face trial.
Chukwuma and his company, Innoson Motors Nigeria Limited, were to be arraigned on a four-count charge of conspiracy to obtain by false pretences, obtaining by false pretence, stealing and forgery.
The defendants allegedly committed the offences between 2009 and July 2011 in Lagos.
The defendants were alleged to have conspired to obtain, by false pretences, containers of motorcycles, spare parts and raw materials, being property of Guaranty Trust Bank, from Mitsui OSK Lines Limited, Apapa, Lagos.
They were also alleged to have fraudulently induced staff of Mitsui OSK and Maersk Line to deliver to them, via their clearing agents, the goods that were imported from China in the name of GTB by falsely pretending that they were authorized by the bank to clear the goods.
The defendants were said to have forged a bill of lading numbered 598286020 of Maersk Line Limited and 11007950841 of Mussui O.S.K. Line by knowingly putting a false GTB stamp and signature of the bank staff.
The alleged fraud was in order that the forged documents be used or acted upon as genuine to the prejudice of any person within Lagos or elsewhere.
However, since the suit was instituted, first before Justice Mojisola Dada of the same court, the defendant has refused to appear in court to face his trial.
In a short ruling today, Justice Williams held that it was the responsibility of the EFCC to produce him in court.
“This court is not an investigator or a prosecutor. This court cannot waste precious judicial time prosecuting a matter that is going nowhere.
“This is a criminal matter that can be instituted anytime the prosecution is ready. The court hereby strikes out the matter,” the Judge held.
It will be recalled that Justice Dada had, on June 22, 2018, withdrawn from presiding over the matter on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council (NJC).
All efforts by the EFCC to arraign the defendant before Justice Dada on five consecutive occasions failed despite being declared wanted on May 23, 2018, and also issuance of a bench warrant by the court.