The National Judicial Council (NJC) has dismissed a petition by Innoson Motors boss, Innocent Chukwuma, against Justice Mojisola Dada of the Lagos State Special Offences Court, Ikeja, Lagos. Stating that “it found no wrongdoing against the judge”. The decision was made known in a letter signed by NJC’s Secretary, Ahmed Saleh.
The letter partly reads:
“At the end of the deliberation, the council did not find any act of misconduct on the part of the honourable judge. However, if the case is still pending before Hon. Justice M.A. Dada, same will be returned to the Chief Judge for re-assignment to another judge, please.”
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had charged Mr. Chukwuma for alleged forgery and stealing before Justice Dada. Mr. Chukwuma had repeatedly failed to show up in court for his arraignment.
Justice Dada had issued a bench warrant against him at the prompting of the EFCC, who later declared him wanted. Instead, the Innoson Motors boss petitioned the NJC, accusing the special court judge of misconduct.
The letter, however, instructed th Chief Judge of Lagos State to re-assign the case from Justice Dada to another judge.
Recall that Nairametrics reported that the case had taken a new turn as Justice Dada had mandated that Mr. Chukwuma be brought befor the court on March 1, 2018.
Innoson vs EFCC
The EFCC in December last year, arrested Chukwuma at his Enugu home. The anti-graft agency had accused him of refusing to honour invitations after jumping an administrative bail granted. In his response, Innoson denied jumping bail and stated that the last invitation he got was in 2012. In addition, he was also accused of mobilizing thugs to resist arrest.
The move attracted the attention of the National Assembly which condemned the action. The Senate, subsequently mandated its committee on Anti Corruption and Financial Crimes to investigate the matter. At the commencement of the hearing, Senators chided the EFCC for the manner it arrested Chukwuma.
Why the EFCC took him to court
Innoson, in 2012, had allegedly discovered that his current account with GTBank had been wrongly debited by over ₦700 million. Subsequently, the company took the bank to court and was awarded judgement in the sum of ₦4.7 billion with 22% interest on the judgement debt.
A Court of Appeal in Ibadan affirmed the decision of the federal high court and ordered GTBank to pay ₦2.4 billion to Innoson. The bank appealed the ruling at the Supreme court but lost the case.
The EFCC’s actions stem from a petition allegedly submitted by Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank). While GTBank has declined to address the issue directly since it is in court, the bank had hinged its action on the need to exercise its right to recover delinquent loans.