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Innoson Motors Innocent Chukwuma challenges court’s jurisdiction to hear suit against him

In February 2018, Justice Mojisola Dada issued a bench warrant for Chukwuma's arrest because he failed to appear in court twice for arraignment on criminal charges filed against him by the EFCC.

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Innoson boss, Innocent Chukwuma challenges latest Appeal Court ruling play

Innoson group boss, Innocent Chukwuma

(File)

The legal team of the Innoson Motors boss, Innocent Chukwuma have challenged the jurisdiction of the Lagos State High Court to hear the suit on the forgery charge against Innoson filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

In February 2018, Justice Mojisola Dada issued a bench warrant for Chukwuma's arrest because he failed to appear in court twice for arraignment on criminal charges filed against him by the EFCC.

According to a statement signed by Cornel Osigwe, spokesman for Innoson Motors, Chief George Uwechue (SAN), called the attention of Justice Dada to the pending applications before the Court when she asked to see Chukwuma.

According to the statement, “Prof J.N. Mbadugha  Esq. who is the counsel to the 1st Defendant, Innoson Nig. Ltd, told the Court that since the jurisdiction of the court is in contest, that Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal held in Abacha v. State [2002] 11 NWLR (Pt. 779) 437, Igbeke v. FRN [2015] 3 NWLR (Pt. 1445) 28, Ezeze v. State [2004] 14 NWLR (Pt. 894) 491 that the appearance of the defendant is no longer mandatory and necessary where jurisdiction of the Court is challenged.

“Furthermore, he stated that the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal held in the aforesaid cases that in the circumstance, the court owes the defendant a duty to safeguard him from oppression, prejudice and the rigors of criminal prosecution until that challenge to jurisdiction is determined one way or the other.

“Prof Mbadugha further challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter on the ground that that the charge is an abuse of court process because the same charge on the same subject matter, transactions and issues is pending at the Federal High Court before the present charge in this court.

"Prof Mbadugha further argued that if the defendant comes to court, the court remands him in prison and thereafter the court discovers that it lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the charge - suit, who then will compensate the defendant for going to prison and that is why the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal held that the court owes the defendant a duty to safeguard him from the rigors of prejudice, oppression and the criminal prosecution once issue of jurisdiction is raised.”

ALSO READ: Innoson boss files motion for stay of execution over arrest

Justice Dada refuses to handle Innoson’s case

Osigwe also revealed that Justice Dada said that she will no longer attend to the proceedings until she responds to the petitions against her before the National Judicial Council (NJC).

Innoson had on February 12, 2018, petitioned the NJC to investigate the circumstance leading to the issuance of a bench warrant for his arrest by Justice Dada.

The Judge also said that she awaits the NJC’s decision before she will entertain further proceedings in the suit.

Justice Dada further adjourns till April 25, 2018 for possible arraignment.

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