Innoson Group, makers of Innoson Vehicles, has described the a move by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to freshly charge the chairman of the company, Innocent Chukwuma, as an abuse on court process.

The anti corruption agencies had in December arrested Mr. Innoson Chukwuma in a gestapo style at his Enugu residence. He was later released after a wide outcry.

Mr. Chukwuma claimed that EFCC did not confront him with any charge throughout the days of his detention, describing the arrest as baseless and attempt at intimidating him.

The EFCC, however, later released a temporary charge sheet signaling beginning of a suit against Mr. Chukwuma and two others on allegations of fraud before a Lagos State High Court.

The suit is yet to progress.

But in a fresh statement at the weekend, Innoson Group described the EFCC suit as “volt face”, saying it was also against laid down judicial processes as similar matter is already a subject of litigation.

Read the full statement below:

Our attention has been drawn to the publication at page 5 of the Nation’s Newspaper of Friday 12th January 2018, with the caption “Court stays proceedings in fraud case against Innoson others’. The content of the publications contains quantifiable elements of misrepresentation of facts and inaccurate address of the issues at hand. We know that the intention of the sponsors of the publication is to bring the personality and integrity of Innoson to disrepute. We therefore shall through this medium correctly state the true position and put the records straight.

GTB stole N560Million from Innoson’s account with it. Innoson as a result sued GTB in Suit No: FHC/AWK/CS/139/2012 at the Federal High Court, Awka Division. In that suit, Innoson got judgment on 16th May 2013 in the sum of N4.7Billion against GTB for stealing N560Million from its account with it. Also, in Suit No: FHC/L/CS/603/2006, Innoson got judgment in the sum of N2.4Billion – garnishee order absolute – against GTB. Both judgments attract 22% interest until satisfied by GTB. The N2.4Billion judgment was subsequently affirmed by the Court of Appeal, Ibadan Division in Appeal No: CA/I/258/2011.

Satisfaction of the judgment debt which, with their respective interests, stood in excess of N11Billion, became a serious problem to GTB. In fact, to this extent GTB had in an affidavit it filed at the Court of Appeal, Enugu Division in Appeal No: CA/E/288/2013 deposed that if it satisfies the judgment debt it will collapse and be out of business.

Consequently, in order to force Innoson to negotiate with it or to drop the judgments, GTB got the Police to file a trumped up charge against Innoson in Charge No: FHC/L/565C/2015 at the Federal High Court, Lagos Division in December 2015.

However, through an instrument dated 17th February, 2016 the Inspector General of Police through U.S. Nwodo Esq. withdrew the Charge – Charge No: FHC/L/565C/2015. At paragraph 2 of the instrument, which is enclosed, the IGP cum Stanley Nwodo stated thus:

“I have found it convenient to withdraw the said charge following a new development which borders on further investigation”.

Characteristically, GTB invited the former DPP of the Federation, Mr. Diri, to take over the withdrawn Charge and Mr. Diri using the name of the Attorney General of the Federation purports to have taken over the charge.

The question of whether there is a Charge – Charge No: FHC/L/565C/2015 – to be taken over by the DPP of the Federation acting as the Attorney General of the Federation is a subject of Appeal in Appeal No: CA/E/249C/2016 pending at the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division and an offshoot of this – a motion – is a subject of appeal in Appeal No: SC 839/2017 at the Supreme Court of Nigeria. With this, proceedings are yet to commence and none of the Defendants in the charge is, as a result, required to attend the proceedings.

That Charge No: FHC/L/565c/2015 is a trumped up charge, is demonstrated by the fact that as at 2013, even as at 2012, Innoson was not involved in any transaction with GTB – their relationship having broken down irretrievably – except the pending lawsuits in which judgments in the aggregate sum of N11Billion inclusive of interests were rendered in favour of Innoson against GTB. Therefore, to say that Innoson committed the offence of falsification of shipping documents as a collateral to GTB to obtain a loan of N2.4 Billion in October 2013 or in any other month or year is laughable.

The charge which EFCC filed against Innoson at the Lagos State High Court in December 2017 is a volta face and portrays EFCC as an institution which engages in double speaking. EFCC had earlier denied that its reason for arresting Innoson was not because GTB induced it to do that but given the huge public outcry against its action on Innoson, it rushed and filed the charge. This charge shows it acted on behalf of GTB.

Again, the EFCC charge is a gross abuse of process. First, an earlier charge which GTB induced the EFCC to file against Innoson was struck out. Innoson appealed against the order striking the charge out on the ground that it ought to be a dismissal and not striking out. The appeal, with Appeal No: CA/L/1328CM/2017 is, till date, still pending when EFCC filed or re-filed, in December 2017, the same charge that was struck out.

Secondly, the charge is on the same subject matter and the same party as Charge No: FHC/L/565C/2015 that is pending at the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, in Appeal No: CA/E/249C/2016.

Both charges are smear campaign by GTB and EFCC to destroy Innoson.

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