The trial of Mr Innocent Chukwuma, the Managing Director of Innoson Company Limited and four others over alleged forgery has been stalled due to the absence of the defendant’s counsel.
The trial which was fixed for hearing pending applications by Justice Ayo Faji of the Federal High Court, Lagos, was adjourned at the instance of Chukwuma’s lawyer, Mr McCarthy Mbadugha, who wrote to notify the court of his absence because he travelled abroad for medical treatment.
The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) had filed a criminal charge of forgery before the court, against Mr Chukwuma, his company, Innoson Nigeria Limited, and four others among them: Charles Chukwu, Maximian Chukwura, Mitsui Osk Lines and Annajekwu Sunny.
However, during the hearing of several applications filed by the defendants, the court struck out the name of Chukwuma’s company, Innoson Nigeria Limited, from the charge.
The AGF in the charge marked FHC/L/565C/2015, alleged that Chukwuma and other defendants, between January, 2010 and April 2011, at Apapa Wharf, Lagos, conspired amongst themselves to falsify the shipping documents which they deposited with Mitsui Osk Lines Lagos, which was used as collateral for the purpose of clearing raw the material, polyvinylchloride (PVC), for the production of roof ceiling and other imported items.
The accused persons were also alleged to have without lawful authority and with intent to defraud, uttered the shipping and clearance documents of the shipping line, Mitsui Osk Lines which was used as collateral for the purpose of obtaining a loan of N2.4 billion from Guaranty Trust Bank Plc for the purpose of clearing raw materials Polyvinylchloride (PVC) for the production of roof ceiling and other imported items
They were further alleged to have falsely and fraudulently represented as genuine, the uttered shipping documents and presented same to Guaranty Trust Bank Plc to obtain a loan of N2.4 billion.
The alleged offences according to the prosecution are contrary to and punishable under Sections 3(6),1(2)(C) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap. M 17 Laws of the Federation, 2004.
At the resumed hearing of the application today, Chief George Uwechue (SAN), counsel to Innoson Motors Limited, informed the court of the request for adjournment letter received from Chukwuma’s counsel, Mbadugha, on health grounds.
However, the prosecutor, Mr Julius Ajakaiye, a Deputy Director in the Federal Ministry of Justice, informed the court that he was not served the letter but informed in court about the development by a clerk in Mbadugha’s chambers.
Also, lawyer to other defendants told the court that they were yet to receive the letter; they, however, said that they were not opposing the adjournment.
Following the submissions of the prosecutor and other counsels, Justice Faji gave the prosecutor and other lawyers copies of Mbadugha’s letter.
At the agreement of the parties, the matter was adjourned till January 29, 2019, for the hearing of all pending applications in the alleged criminal charge.