The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday said its operatives have arrested Chief Innocent Chukwuma, popularly known by his company’s name, Innoson.
His arrest followed his refusal to honour 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.
Spokesperson of the commission, Wilson Uwujaren, said although operatives had arrived the home of Chukwma at Savage Crescent, GRA Enugu, early, they waited until 11:00am before he could be arrested.
He was alleged to have mobilised six truck loads of ‘thugs’ pretending to be staff of his company to his residence, where they manhandled EFCC operatives.
“It took reinforcement from the Enugu office of the EFCC to effect the arrest of the industrialist,” Uwujaren said in the statement.
The industrialist was subsequently flown to Abuja, where he will have a date with interrogators.
Chukwma established the first indigenous car manufacturing company in his Nnewi town in Anambra State, producing brands of Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV), buses and saloon cars.
However, the Head of Corporate Communications of Innoson Group, Cornel Osigwe, has debunked allegation of the gestapo kind of arrest of Chukwuma.
In a statement he signed, Osigwe also refuted the claim that the commission at any time invited Chukwuma either in writing or through any other means.
“Our attention has been drawn to a tweet by EFCC on its official twitter handle claiming that the gestapo kind of arrest of Chief Innocent Chukwuma (OFR) today (yesterday) at his Enugu residence was because he did not honour an invitation from the commission sent to him.
“This claim by the commission is not factual and it tends to mislead the public and bring the personality and character of Chukwuma to disrepute. Hence, we want to state the true position so as to inform the general public the truth about this matter.
“EFCC never invited Chief Chukwuma, either in writing or through any other means. We are aware that EFCC investigated GTB complaint against Innoson in 2012.
“During the investigation he was invited and he honoured the invitation. After the investigation EFCC filed a charge against him at Lagos State High Court.
The charge was subsequently struck out. However, Chuskwuma and Innoson Nigeria Ltd appealed against the order striking out the case on the basis that it ought to be dismissed and not struck out.
The appeal – No Ca/l/1330cm/2017 is till date still pending at the Court of Appeal Lagos division. Till date, EFCC never invited Chief Chukwuma again.
“On this recent arrest, Chukwuma has not been told officially the purpose of his arrest and he demands to know why.”
In his reaction, Innoson Group’s lawyer, Dr. McCarthy Mbadugha, said the arrest of Chief Chukwuma by the EFCC in Enugu was part of the strategy by GT Bank to frustrate justice and intimidate the industrialist into backing down from his N400 billion suit pending against the bank at a Federal High Court in Abuja, for general damages to his reputation and that of his companies.
Mbadugha alleged that using EFCC to harass Chukwuma was a panic and desperate measure by the bank, which he said is afraid of the likely crippling consequences of judgement being entered in his client’s favour in the N400 billion suit.
He argued that Chukwuma had won many cases against GTB in various courts, including at the appellate levels, and wondered why the bank usually resorts to taking short-cuts, rather than obeying court rulings or waiting for the outcome of pending matters.