Mr. Innocent Chukwuma, the chairman of Innoson Motors Nigeria Ltd, was on Thursday declared wanted by the special offences court sitting in Lagos.
The Judge of the court, Mojisola Dada, declared him wanted over his failure to make an appearance in court for his arraignment for the fifth time.
Justice Dada declared the embattled businessman wanted following the request of Anselem Ozioko, the lead prosecuting counsel of the EFCC who submitted that he had previously failed to make an appearance in court for his arraignment on Jan. 17, Feb. 9, March 14 and April 25.
Ozioko said, “This appears to be the fifth time this matter is coming up before your Lordship for arraignment.
“The learned Senior Advocate of Nigeria representing the second defendant (Innoson) is still insisting on taking his application without ensuring the defendant is physically present in court.
“The question is, where is the second defendant? Is he too big for the court? Is he too big for the Federal Republic of Nigeria? Is he too big because he has money? Where is he?
“What my learned friends, the defence counsel are doing is contemptuous.
“We shall be applying for an order to declare the second defendant wanted.”
Acceding to Ozioko’s request, Dada said, “The second defendant is hereby declared wanted and the case adjourned until June 22 for possible arraignment.”
Earlier, during the proceedings, Ozioko had informed the court that the anti-graft agency would also be taking some steps to ensure Innoson’s attendance in court on the next adjourned date.
Counsel to Innoson, George Uwechue (SAN), had requested that the court hear his application despite Dada’s declaration that no application will be heard until Innoson is physically present in court.
“At the last hearing, the court maintained its position that it will not take its pending application unless the first defendant is arraigned,” he said.
“We were about to cite our position regarding the court’s declaration but we were interrupted by the prosecuting counsel and that interruption led to today’s proceedings.
“Whatever we did that day, we sincerely apologize; we urge this court to allow us to continue our presentation.’’
J. N Mbadugha, counsel to Innoson Motors Nigeria Ltd, in his submission told the court that he had an application challenging the jurisdiction of the court.
Mbadugha informed the court that he had made an appeal at the court of appeal over the case.
Justice Dada, however, maintained her position that the applications of the defence will not be heard until Innoson is physically present in court.
Mr. Innocent Chukwuma is standing trial in a matter between his company and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).