The Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, has said it would not continue with the trial of Mr. Innocent Chukwuma, the boss of Innoson Group and five others until the Supreme Court gives a verdict on some applications that are yet to be determined.
Justice Ayokunle Faji said he was staying proceedings because there are pending applications before the apex court.
“In view of the pending motion for stay of proceedings at the Supreme Court, this court will wait until it is determined,” he ruled.
According to him, lower courts must wait on the Supreme Court where a decision on appeal would have a direct impact on proceedings.
“To do otherwise will amount to an invitation to judicial anarchy,” Justice Faji added.
When the prosecutor tried to persuade him on the citing the case of Olisah Metuh and section 306 of the constitution, the judge said: “I cannot do anything. I cannot even cough.”
At the start of proceeding today, Mr. Nnabueze Mbadugha, one of the defense counsel, informed the court that he has filed a preliminary objection and counter affidavit challenging the jurisdiction of the court on the ground that the charge is an abuse of court process because the prosecutor filed the application in Abuja, hence the Lagos court has no jurisdiction to hear it.
The prosecutor then argued that all the issues raised in the various applications mentioned had been dealt with by the former presiding judge, Justice Saliu Saidu, who has now been transferred, and the Appeal Court.
“The defense team is just trying to delay the trial” the prosecutor said.
However, the judge refused to reason along the line of the prosecutor. He asked the prosecutor if it is the law for a lower court to look over pending application before the Supreme Court.
After what seem like a forth and back between the judge and the prosecutor, he adjourned the case until March 12, 2018, which was considered sufficient time for the apex court to have concluded on the applications before it.
The Police charged the Innoson boss and five others with an alleged N2.4biollion shipping fraud.
Others named in the charge are; Charles Chukwu, Maximian Chukwura, Mitsui Osk Lines and Anajekwu Sunny.
Trial is yet to begin in the case since it was filed, due to various applications that the defendants filed, some of which are on appeal up to the Supreme Court.
Mr. Chukwuma has also never appeared in the case and was not in court today.
The police accused the defendants of conspiring among themselves to unlawfully falsify shipping clearance documents.
They were accused of altering shipping documents by tendering same as collateral to Guaranty Trust Bank to allegedly obtain a loan of N2.4bn.
The police claimed that the defendants committed the offence at Apapa wharf on October 10, 2013.
The police prosecutor, who signed the charge sheet, U.S. Nwodo, said the offences are contrary to sections 1(2) (c) and 3(6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17, Laws of the Federation 2004.