NNEWI—INNOSON Vehicle Manufacturing Company, has insisted that the charge filed against it by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, before a Lagos State High Court, was a trumped up charge. founder and chairman of Nigeria’s automobile company, Innoson Motors, Innocent Chukwuma.
Reacting to a media report of the stay of proceedings in the charge, the company, yesterday, said “Our attention has been drawn to the publication in the media on a court staying proceedings in fraud case against Innoson and others.
“The content of the publication 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.
“The bank we have issues with, stole N560 mllion from Innoson’s account with it. Innoson as a result sued the bank in Suit No: FHC/AWK/CS/139/2012 at the Federal High Court, Awka Division. In that suit, Innoson got judgment on May 16, 2013 in the sum of N4.7 billion against the bank for stealing N560 million from its account with it.
Also, in suit No: FHC/L/CS/603/2006, Innoson got judgment in the sum of N2.4 billion–garnishee order absolute – against the bank. Both judgments attract 22 per cent interest until satisfied by the bank. The N2.4bn 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 N11bn, became a serious problem to the bank. In fact, to this extent the bank 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, the bank 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 February 17, 2016 the Inspector General of Police through U.S. Nwodo, 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, the bank 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 the bank – their relationship having broken down irretrievably, except the pending law suits in which judgments in the aggregate sum of N11bn inclusive of interests were rendered in favour of Innoson against the bank. Therefore, to say that Innoson committed the offence of falsification of shipping documents as a collateral to the bank to obtain a loan of N2.4bn 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 the bank 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 the bank.
“Again, the EFCC charge is a gross abuse of process. First, an earlier charge which the bank 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 the bank and EFCC to destroy Innoson.”