Nigerian Civil Society Leader, Innocent Chukwuma Dies

One of Nigeria’s civil society leaders and founder of the CLEEN Foundation, Innocent Chukwuma. Credit: CLEEN Foundation

 

One of Nigeria’s civil society leaders and founder of the CLEEN Foundation, Innocent Chukwuma, has died.

His death was announced on Sunday via CLEEN Foundation’s Twitter handle.

Although the foundation did not indicate his age, multiple reports suggest that he died at 55.

“We are extremely pained to announce the death of Innocent Chukwuma on April 3. He was the founder and pioneer Executive Director of CLEEN Foundation,” the statement signed by Professor Etannibi Alemika on behalf of the foundation’s Board of Trustees.

“Until February 2021, a few weeks ago, Innocent Chukwuma was the West Africa Representative of Ford Foundation.”

The foundation described its late founder as a patriot, who throughout his years, struggled for a Nigerian nation where peace, justice and development are attained and sustained.

READ ALSO: Five Suspects Arrested Over Abduction, Murder Of Policemen

The late Chukwuma was one of the students within the National Union of Nigerian Students (NANS) platform that opposed the arbitrary powers of the military rule in the 1980s.

He continued the struggle as a staff of the Civil Liberties Organisation where he led research and advocacy on police reform.

In 1989, Chukwuma established the Centre for Law Enforcement of Education in Nigeria registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission as CLEEN Foundation.

Reacting to the unfortunate incident, one of his close allies and comrade in a civil right crusade, Chidi Odinkalu, said the late Chukwuma, “passed before the needle could be inserted.

“He was a man of decency. I knew him for nearly 35 and I am grateful for the privilege. In all things, as my late mum always said, we must learn to give thanks. He was a man of decency,” he told Vanguard.

Senator Reveals Major Problem Confronting Nigerian Police

 

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Police Affairs, Haliru Jika on Friday identified a lack of funding as the number one problem hampering the Nigeria Police Force.

Jika revealed this during an appearance on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.

“The main problem of the Nigerian police is funding, funding, funding,” he said.

In a 2019 survey, the Nigerian police were identified as the most corrupt public institution in the country.

On Thursday, President Muhammadu Buhari signed, into law, the Nigeria Police Bill 2020.

The act is expected to establish an “appropriate funding framework for the police”, according to a statement from the Presidency.

Along with the Police Trust Fund act, which received presidential assent in 2019, Jika believes the new law will help to improve police finances.

Ford Foundation Director in West Africa, Innocent Chukwuma, who also appeared on Sunrise Daily, said the act was a “welcome development” although it won’t solve all the problems bedeviling the police.

While noting that he was yet to sight the version of the bill signed by the President, he said the new law will help to address the issue of fundamental rights, as it relates to police operations.

One of the issues the bill addresses is the setting of a term-limit for the Inspector-General of Police to four years.

Previously, the President appointed and fired the police chief at will.

However, Chukwuma lamented the lack of oversight on the appointment of the IGP.

Under the new law (the version from the National Assembly seen by Chukwuma), the President retained the power to unilaterally appoint the IGP, with the Police Council only serving in an advisory role.

EFCC Vows to Arrest Innoson Chairman as Court Strikes Out Case Against Him

 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has vowed to ensure that the Chairman, Innoson Motors Nigeria Limited, Mr Innocent Chukwuma is arrested to face fraud charges in court.

Spokesperson of the commission, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, made the vow on Wednesday after Justice Olusola Williams of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, struck out the case of fraud it instituted against Chukwuma.

The Judge struck out the case after the EFCC failed to produce Chukwuma in court to face trial.

Mr Chuwuma and his company, Innoson Motors Nigeria Limited, were to be arraigned on four charges of conspiracy to obtain by false pretences, obtaining by false pretence, stealing and forgery.

READ MORE: Alleged Theft: Court Strikes Out Case Against Innoson Motors

The defendants allegedly committed the offences between 2009 and July 2011 in Lagos.

The defendants were alleged to have conspired to obtain, by false pretences, containers of motorcycles, spare parts, and raw materials, property of Guaranty Trust Bank, from Mitsui OSK Lines Limited, Apapa, Lagos.

They were also alleged to have fraudulently induced staff of Mitsui OSK and Maersk Line to deliver to them, via their clearing agents, the goods that were imported from China in the name of GTB by falsely pretending that they were authorised by the bank to clear the goods.

The defendants were said to have forged a bill of lading numbered 598286020 of Maersk Line Limited and 11007950841 of Mussui O.S.K. Line by knowingly putting a false GTB stamp and signature of the bank staff.

The alleged fraud was in order that the forged documents be used or acted upon as genuine to the prejudice of any person within Lagos or elsewhere.

However, since the suit was instituted, first before Justice Mojisola Dada of the same court, the defendant has refused to appear in court to face his trial.

In a short ruling today, Justice Williams held that it was the responsibility of the EFCC to produce him in court.

“This court is not an investigator or a prosecutor. This court cannot waste precious judicial time prosecuting a matter that is going nowhere.

“This is a criminal matter that can be instituted anytime the prosecution is ready. The court hereby strikes out the matter,” the Judge held.

Justice Dada had, on June 22, 2018, withdrawn from presiding over the matter on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council (NJC).

All efforts by the EFCC to arraign the defendant before Justice Dada on five consecutive occasions failed despite being declared wanted on May 23, 2018, and also issuance of a bench warrant by the court.

Alleged Forgery: Court Orders EFCC To Produce Innoson Boss

Alleged Forgery: Court Orders EFCC To Produce Innoson Boss
File photo: Innocent Chukwuma

 

A Special Offences Court sitting in the Ikeja area of Lagos State has asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to produce the chairman of Innoson Motors Limited, Mr Innocent Chukwuma, for his arraignment.

Justice Olusola Williams made this pronouncement on Wednesday owing to the absence of Mr Chukwuma who was scheduled to be arraigned before her over allegations of forgery brought against him by the EFCC.

“I believe it is the job of the prosecution to bring the defendant to court because they are the Executives. The judge is just to make an order that he should appear in court but we cannot enforce the order; the responsibility still lies on the EFCC to make sure he is in court,” Justice Williams held.

Mr Chukwuma’s non-appearance in court is the sixth time he will be absent in court.

He had initially failed to appear before the former trial judge, Justice Mojisola Dada, who subsequently went on to declare him wanted.

The Innoson boss had then written a petition against Justice Dada, alleging bias and even though the judge was cleared of any wrongdoing by the National Judicial Council, she withdrew from the case.

The matter was then re-assigned to Justice Williams for arraignment.

At the proceedings on Wednesday, Chukwuma was again absent in court when the matter was called.

Counsel to the prosecution, Anselem Ozioko, informed the court that the defendant and his counsel were absent in court.

“He (Chukwuma) has refused to come for his arraignment for the sixth time even when the matter was before your learned brother, Justice Dada, despite all efforts to bring him here. He has also filed seven different applications in-between the period he was supposed to be arraigned,” Ozioko said.

He further told the court that Chukwuma, the second defendant in the case, is the alter-ego of the first defendant which is his company.

The prosecuting counsel said the applications he submitted before the court earlier included an application challenging the jurisdiction of the court and an application to disqualify himself from the charge before the court.

Other applications included an order of stay of execution on the bench warrant issued by the court and a stay of execution of the warrant of arrest among others.

The prosecution also informed the court that the Innoson boss has refused to honour the court order by his continuous absence in court after he was granted an administrative bail by the EFCC.

In view of the absence of the defendant, he asked the court for an adjournment date.

Justice Williams, however, told the EFCC’s counsel to do all he could to bring the defendant to court.

She further said that one of the court’s registrars informed her that someone came to file a motion on behalf of the defendant and the registrar made an attempt to serve him the hearing notice, but the person refused to collect it.

“It is the prosecution’s duty to make sure the defendant is in court to answer his case,” the judge said, adding, “I can’t be issuing an order to a defendant that seems not to be existing.”

“I will give you a date and anytime you are able to arrest the defendant, just inform the court registrars and bring him to court for arraignment,” Justice Williams said.

The judge then adjourned the matter till October 10, 2018, for arraignment.

Chukwuma and his company, Innoson Motors Nigeria Ltd., were to be arraigned on four counts of conspiracy to obtain property by false pretences, obtaining property by false pretences, stealing and forgery in a transaction with a bank.

According to the charge sheet, the defendants committed the offences between 2009 and July 2011 in Lagos.

The EFCC alleged that the defendants, with intent to defraud, conspired to obtain by false pretences containers of motorcycle, spare parts and raw materials, property of the bank from Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd, Apapa, Lagos.

They were alleged to have fraudulently induced staff of Mitsui OSK and Maersk Line to deliver to them via their clearing agents, the goods which were imported from China in the name of the bank by falsely pretending that they were authorised by the bank to clear the goods.

The prosecution claimed that the defendants, in order to facilitate the fraud, forged a bill of lading numbered 598286020 of Maersk Line Limited and 11007950841 of Mutsui O.S.K Lines by knowingly putting a false stamp of the bank and signature of its staff.

The alleged forgery was in order that the forged documents be used or acted upon as genuine to the prejudice of any person within Lagos or elsewhere.

The offences contravened Sections 1(1)(b), 1(3), and 8(a) of the Advanced Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act 2016, and Sections 309(9), 388, 465 and 467(1)(j) of the Criminal Code, Laws of Lagos State 2003

Judge Withdraws From Hearing Innoson’s Case

Alleged Fraud: Innoson Boss Absent In Court For Arraignment
File photo: Innocent Chukwuma

 

The planned arraignment of the Chairman of Innoson Motors Limited, Innocent Chukwuma, before a Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos was on Friday stalled, following the withdrawal of the judge hearing the case.

The Judge, Justice Mojisola Dada, has since returned the case file of the suit to the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Opeyemi Oke.

The judge withdrew from the case following the recommendation of the National Judicial Council (NJC) in response to the petition written by the automobile boss against her.

READ ALSO: Alleged Murder: Court Grants Senator Adeleke’s Nurse N10m Bail

The petition which was dated February 12, 2018, was titled, “Request To Investigate The Circumstances Leading To Honourable Justice Mojisola Dada of Lagos State High Court Issuing a Bench Warrant Against Chief Innocent Chukwuma and Ordering for His Arrest.”

However, the NJC’s response disclosed that the Council in a meeting held on March 9, 2018, had absolved Justice Dada of any wrongdoing.

The letter signed by the Secretary to the NJC, Ahmed Saleh, stated that, “At the end of deliberation, Council did not find any act of misconduct on the part of the Honourable Judge.

However, if the case is still pending before Honourable Justice Mojisola Dada, same will be returned to the Chief Judge for re-assignment to another Judge.”

It would be recalled that Chukwuma and his company, Innoson Motors Nigeria Limited, were to be arraigned on a four-count charge bordering on conspiracy to obtain property by false pretences, obtaining property by false pretences, stealing and forgery in a transaction with Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB).

The EFCC alleged that the defendants committed the offences between 2009 and July 2011 in Lagos.

According to the anti-graft commission, the defendants with intent to defraud; conspired to obtain by false pretenses containers of motorcycle, spare parts and raw materials, a property of GTB from Mitsui OSK Lines Limited, Apapa, Lagos.

The alleged forgery was in order that the forged documents be used or acted upon as genuine to the prejudice of any person within Lagos or elsewhere.

The offences contravened Sections 1(1)(b), 1(3), and 8(a) of the Advanced Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act 2016 and Sections 309(9), 388, 465 and 467(1)(j) of the Criminal Code, Laws of Lagos State 2003.

Following the refusal of Chukwuma to take his plea in court for the fifth time on May 23, 2018, the judge declared him wanted after a request by the EFCC.

Court Declares Innoson Motors Chairman Wanted

Alleged Fraud: Innoson Boss Absent In Court For Arraignment
File photo: Innocent Chukwuma

 

A Special Offences Court Sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, has declared the Chairman of Innoson Motors Nig Ltd, Innocent Chukwuma, wanted following his continuous refusal to attend court proceedings for his alleged fraud trial.

Justice Mojisola Dada issued the bench warrant for his arrest after he failed to appear in court for his arraignment for the fifth time.

Mr Chukwuma who is standing trial in a matter between his company and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had previously failed to make an appearance in court for his arraignment on Jan. 17, Feb. 9, March 14 and April 25.

He was arraigned alongside his company for allegedly forging documents to facilitate the clearing of some goods at the port.

Specifically, he was alleged to have forged documents purportedly emanating from GTB Bank.

The issue, however, degenerated as Innoson alleged victimization and harassment by the EFCC and GTB Bank.

During the proceedings of March 14, it was revealed that Innoson had petitioned the National Judicial Council (NJC) over Justice Mojisola Dada, the judge trying the case.

At today’s proceedings, the EFCC Counsel, Anselem 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,” he said.

In granting Ozioko’s request, Justice Dada said, “The second defendant is hereby declared wanted and the case adjourned until June 22 for possible arraignment.”

FHC To Await Supreme Court Decision In N2.4bn Forgery Case Against Innoson, Others

File Photo

 

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has fixed June 27 to await the report of the proceedings from the Supreme Court in the trial of the Chairman of Innoson Nigeria Ltd, Innocent Chukwuma, and five others over the alleged falsification of shipping documents to clear goods valued at N2.4 billion.

The defendants approached the Supreme Court to challenge the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court to hear the matter.

The Federal Government had filed four charges of forgery against Innocent Chukwuma and Innoson Nig. Ltd, Charles Chukwu, Maximian Chukwura, Mitsui Osk Lines ‘C’, and Sunny Anajekwu.

They allegedly conspired and committed the offence on October 10, 2013, at Apapa Wharf, Lagos.

When the case came up on Tuesday, only the fourth defendant, Maximum Chukwura, was present in court.

The counsel representing the third and the sixth defendants, Mr. Macharty Mbadugha, then informed Justice Ayokunle 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 Mr Mbadugha replied in the negative.

The court held that it was wrong for the 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, Mr Julius Ajakaiye, complained to the court that the appeal was entered at the Supreme Court on February 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 lamented that the action of the defence was aimed at stalling the progress of the case, but informed the court that the prosecution has filed an application to dismiss the appeal and that same had been served on the defence.

Meanwhile, counsel to the fourth and fifth defendant, Mr Olusola Abimloye, told the court that he had an application seeking to dispense with the appearance of the fourth defendant 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 Mr 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.

The judge also 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.

Justice Faji then adjourned the case until June 27 for a report of proceedings at the Supreme Court.

The prosecution alleged that the defendants falsified shipping documents which they deposited with Guaranty Trust Bank as collateral for N2.4 billion, a facility allegedly granted Innoson 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 are said to contravene the provisions of Sections 1(2) (c), and 3(6) of the Miscellaneous Offence Act, Laws of the Federation 2004.

Court Adjourns Case Against Innoson Motors Till May 22

Alleged Fraud: Innoson Boss Absent In Court For Arraignment
File photo: Innocent Chukwuma

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has adjourned until May 22, the hearing in the case involving the Chairman of Innoson Motors Limited, Innocent Chukwuma, over an alleged falsification of shipping documents to clear goods valued at N2.4 billion.

The shipping documents were alleged to have been falsely presented to Guarantee Trust Bank as genuine and with intent to defraud, in order to clear goods worth N2.4 billion.

The Federal Government had filed four counts of forgery against Innoson Nig. Ltd and others including the Chairman of the company, Innocent Chukwuma, Charles Chukwu, Maximian Chukwura, Mitsui Osk Lines ‘C’, and Sunny Anajekwu.

They were said to have conspired and committed the offence on October 10, 2013 at the Apapa Wharf.

However, when the case came up today (Tuesday), only one of the defendants, Maximian Chukwura was present in court.

The court then informed parties of a letter from counsel representing the third to sixth accused, Mr Macharty Ubadugha, requesting for an adjournment on the grounds that he was before an Appellate Court.

Following a request by the prosecutor, Mr. Julius Ajakaye, that he had not been served with the notice of appeal nor the motion for stay of proceedings, Counsel to Innosson Nig. Ltd, Mr. George Uwechue (SAN), informed the court that he would ensure the service of the notice of appeal as well as the motion on the prosecution.

Justice Ayokunle Faji consequently, adjourned the case until May 22, for determination of the pending motion on notice.

Court Issues Arrest Warrant For Innoson Chairman

Alleged Fraud: Innoson Boss Absent In Court For Arraignment
File photo: Innocent Chukwuma

 

A Lagos High Court Sitting in the Ikeja area has issued a warrant for the arrest of the Chairman of Innoson Motors Limited, Innocent Chukwuma for failing to appear before the court to face his trial.

Justice Mojisola Dada ordered that Mr Chukwuma should be arrested and brought to court on the next adjourned date of March 14.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in December last year filed four charges against the C.E.O of Innosons Motors and others at the Lagos State High Court, Ikeja.

In the letter by the Head of Legal and Prosecution for the EFCC, A.B.C. Ozioko, dated November 30, the commission noted that the four charges were bordering on conspiracy to obtain property by false pretence, obtaining property by false pretence, stealing and forgery.

Chukwuma, however, failed to show up at the Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja on Wednesday, January 17 for his arraignment on fraud allegations.

Further Details Shortly…

Alleged Fraud: Innoson Boss Absent In Court For Arraignment

Alleged Fraud: Innoson Boss Absent In Court For Arraignment
File photo: Innocent Chukwuma

 

Chairman of Innoson Nigeria Limited, Innocent Chukwuma, failed to show up at the Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja on Wednesday for his arraignment on allegations of fraud.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had filed four counts against Mr Chukwuma and his company.

They include conspiracy to obtain property by false pretence, obtaining property by false pretence, stealing and forgery.

The anti-graft agency also joined his brother, Charles Chukwuma, as the third defendant to the charge which was filed before the court on November 30, 2017.

When the matter came up in court today (Wednesday), counsel to the Mr Chukwuma, U. Onwukwe told the court that his clients were absent because they have not been served with a copy of the charge.

He also informed the court that he had filed an application challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the case.

The EFCC, however, insisted that the defendants were evading service.

The presiding judge, Justice Mojisola Dada, then asked the EFCC to serve the lawyer a copy of the charge sheet on behalf of his clients.

Justice Dada adjourned the case till February 9 and directed Onwukwe to produce his client at the next sitting of the court.

In the first count, the defendants were alleged to have conspired between 2009 and 2011 to obtain by false pretence, containers of motorcycle spare parts and raw materials from Mistui OSK Limited, a company based in Apapa, Lagos.

The items listed are said to be the property of Guaranty Trust Bank (GT Bank).

In the second count, the EFCC alleged that the defendants bribed staff of Mistui OSK and Maersk Line Limited to deliver to them, through their clearing agents, containers of motorcycle spare parts, molds of plastic parts, steel structures, as well as raw materials imported into Nigeria from China in the name of GT Bank as the consignee by, pretending they had the authority of the bank to clear the items and took delivery of same.

The offences are said to be contrary to certain provisions of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Offences Act of 2006.

Youths Await Innoson’s Arrival At Enugu Airport

Some Igbo youths have gathered at the Enugu Airport to await the return of the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Innoson Motors, Mr Innocent Chukwuma, who was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The anti-graft agency said his arrest followed his refusal to honour an earlier invitation by the commission, having earlier jumped an administrative bail granted him in a case being investigated by the Capital Market and Insurance Fraud Unit of the Commission’s Lagos office.

Read Also: EFCC Releases Innoson Boss, Innocent Chukwuma

The Nnewi-born Industrialist was, however, released on Wednesday, a day after he was arrested at his Enugu residence.

As they awaited his return, the youths were seen on Thursday carrying placards with various inscriptions such as: “Our hero is back, “our Senate is working”.

See photos below.

Senate Blasts EFCC For Arresting Innoson Boss, Orders Probe

 

The Senate on Wednesday criticised the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for arresting the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Innoson Motors, Innocent Chukwuma.

The lawmakers accused the EFCC of using military approach and therefore mandated the Senate Committee on Financial Crimes and Anti-Corruption to investigate their actions.

The committee is expected to report back to the chamber on Thursday, December 21.

Chukwuma was arrested on Tuesday by EFCC officials after he allegedly failed to honour a prior invitation. Innoson Group however disagreed with the EFCC on Wednesday, describing this claim by the EFCC as false.

During the plenary on Wednesday, the lawmakers took turn to criticise EFCC’s actions as Senator Monsurat Sunmonu in an additional prayer which was seconded by Senator Oluremi Tinubu said that the Committee on Women Affairs should investigate the alleged assault on Chwukuma’s wife by EFCC operatives.

Senator Emmanuel Bwacha in his comments said if, truly, Chukwuma’s wife was slapped by an operative of the EFCC as Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe claimed to have been told, “someone must be held to account; he must lose his job and he must be prosecuted.”

Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu also at the plenary raised a point of order to criticise EFCC for the arrest. He said it was a private issue between a bank and its customer and the role of EFCC is not to recover debts.

“If we reduce our security agencies into agencies of debt recovery, then we are doomed as a nation,” Ekweremadu said.