A Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday adjourned until June 27 for the Supreme Court’s decision in the trial of Innosson Nigeria Ltd for a N2.4 billion suit over alleged falsification of shipping documents.
The Federal Government had through the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) filed a four-count charge bordering on forgery against Innosson and four others before Justice Ayokunle Faji.
Listed as accused are: Innosson Nig. Ltd, Innocent Chukwuma, Charles Chukwu, Maximian Chukwura, Mitsui Osk Lines ‘C’ and Anajekwu Sunny.
The accused were alleged to have conspired to commit the offences on Oct. 10, 2013 at Apapa Wharf, Lagos.
Mr J. I. Ajakaiye announced appearance for the prosecution, Mr George Uwechue (SAN) appeared for the first and second accused, Prof. J. N. Mbadugha, appeared for the third and sixth accused, while Mr Olusola Abimloye is for the fourth and fifth accused.
Addressing the court, Mbadugha informed Justice Faji that the position at the Supreme Court remained the same as the pending appeal had not been heard.
He said he had also applied that the case should be given accelerated hearing.
In his reaction, Justice Faji asked if the prosecution as well as other defence counsel had been served with the application and Mbadugha replied in the negative. (No)
The court then held that it was wrong for defence counsel not to have served other parties with his application, adding that counsel cannot address the court “ex parte” (without notice to other parties).
On his part, the prosecutor, (Ajakaiye) informed the court that the facts of the case were not as stated by defence counsel.
According to the prosecutor, the appeal was entered at the Supreme Court on Feb. 28 and by the court’s rules, the appellant ought to have filed his written brief within 10 weeks.
He said he was at the apex court on May 18 to look out for developments, but discovered that nothing had been done on the appeal which the defence had left pending.
The prosecutor added that the defence’s act was aimed at stalling progress of the case, noting that prosecution has filed an application to dismiss the appeal and that same had been served on the defence.
Meanwhile, counsel to fourth and fifth accused, (Abimloye), has told the court that he had an innocuous application, seeking to dispense with the appearance of the fourth accused, who had always been present in court.
But Justice Faji held that he could not take the application since there was already an appeal seeking a stay of proceedings before his court.
In a short ruling, the court held that the manner with which defence counsel (Mbadugha) was handling the appeal was not in conformity with the provisions of Section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act which supports speedy trial.
He held that criminal matters takes priority, adding that counsel must do all he could to avoid the notion that the court’s process was being abused.
Again, in view of the pending appeal, the court again adjourned the case until June 27 for a report of proceedings at the Supreme Court.
The prosecution alleged that the accused falsified shipping documents which they deposited with Guaranty Trust Bank as collateral for N2.4 billion, a facility allegedly granted Innosson Nigeria Ltd.
The shipping documents were also alleged to have been falsely presented as genuine and with intent to defraud in order to clear goods worth N2.4 billion.
The offences contravened the provisions of Sections 1(2) (c), and 3(6) of the Miscellaneous Offence Act, Laws of the Federation 2004.