Counsel to Chairman of Innoson Motors, Professor J.N Mbadugba on Friday narrowly escaped being slammed with contempt of court over his rude demeanour while explaining to Justice Mojisola Dada the reason why his client failed to appear in court after being summoned.
Innocent Chukwuma and his company Innoson Motors are facing trial for forgery in a matter relating to a business transaction with GTB for which they were charged to court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Recall that at the last adjournment, Chukwuma failed to appear before the court, after his lawyer explained to the court that his client was not properly served.
However, at Friday’s proceedings, Innocent was for the second time absent in court.
Counsel to the defendant, professor Mbadugba engaged the court in a round of arguments rather than giving cogent reasons for his client non-appearance in Court.
Mbadugba angrily addressed the court that there are pending applications before the Court of Appeal which had to be entertained before further proceedings at the court could go on.
Professor Mbadugha reacted angrily when the judge insisted that he could only address her after his clients are in the dock.
In anger, the defence counsel started out on arguing on points of law demanding the judge disqualify herself from the trial.
He further charged the judge that she was overriding the Supreme Court decision.
The judge attempted to calm him down, tactfully reminding him to respect and address the court.
“Do you want to go into contempt custody. You can go to prison from here. You think the court is a lawless place? You are rude,” the judge said.
In his response, Innoson’s lawyer said, “I’m sorry my Lord. My Lord should give me a second chance. I want my Lord to tamper justice with mercy. I withdraw the statement. I apologise.”
It would be recalled that a similar drama took place at the last proceeding when Justice Dada asked the EFCC to pass an advanced copy of the charge against the defendants who failed to show up for arraignment on 17th January this year.
At that time the defendant’s counsel, Mr A. Onwukwe who stood in for Professor Mbadugha objected to being served an advanced copy of the charge as a form of service to the defendants.
While the EFCC counsel, Mr A.B.C Ozioko was addressing the court, he asked that a bench warrant is served on the defendants for non-appearance at the court faulting their disposition that they appeared before the Senate Committee but failed to come to court to answer charges.
The Judge thereafter issued a bench warrant and ordered that Mr Chukwuma should be arrested an kept in custody a day before the next adjourned date, which is March 14, 2018.