Bench Warrant: Appeal Court Fixes Feb 10 for Hearing Of Innoson’s Application
The Court of Appeal, Lagos Division yesterday fixed February 10, 2022 for hearing of an appeal filed by the Chairman, Innoson Group, Dr. Innocent Ifediaso Chukwuma challenging a warrant of arrest issued against him by an Ikeja High Court of Lagos State.
Justice Mojisola Dada, who presided over the court, had issued the arrest warrant against Chukwuma following his refusal to appear in court in a suit filed against him, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He was charged alongside his company, Innoson Motors Limited, and his brother, Charles Chukwuma.
Justice Dada made the order on the request of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) counsel, Anselem Ozioko.
Dissatisfied, Chukwuma appealed again the warrant of arrest and urged the court to hold that the lower court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
When the matter came up yesterday, both the appellant and the respondent were not in court neither were they represented by counsel.
Consequently, the presiding Justice, Abubakar Umar adjourned the hearing of the appeal till February 10.
The court also ordered that hearing notice be served on the parties.
The defendants were to be arraigned on a four-count charge of conspiracy to obtain property by false pretenses, obtaining property by false pretenses, stealing and forgery.
EFCC had alleged that the Chukwuma brothers committed the offences between 2009 and July 2011 in Lagos.
The antigraft agency also alleged that the defendants, with intent to defraud, conspired to obtain by false pretenses, containers of motorcycle, spare parts and raw materials, property of Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) from Mitsui OSK Lines Limited, Apapa, Lagos.
But in his Notice of Appeal, the appellant through his lawyer, Professor Joseph N Mbadugha argued that the administration of justice must safeguard an accused person from oppression or prejudice.
He submitted that the Courts have the fundamental duty to stop and prevent abuse of process by Safeguarding the accused from oppression and prejudice.
The appellant stated that “The correct procedure under our law is that any objection as to the want of jurisdiction could be raised at any stage of the trial but it is better to raise it before plea is taken, that is, before issues are joined.
“With the greatest respect, in a democratic setting, as we now are, with no legislative ouster of court’s jurisdiction, all perceived abuses should be tested if confidence is to be preserved for courts as final arbiter in people’s right.
He further submitted that the courts have inherent power to prevent abuse of their process by any of the parties, whether plaintiff or defendant, prosecution or defence, so that as long as democratic process exists nobody will have his rights curtailed.
“All power to settle issues between parties is vested in courts and court must be vigilant that genuine issues and controversies are settled so that no accused person will be oppressed either directly or indirectly through act of prosecution: if not we shall have persecution in place of prosecution”, he argued.