- Ohanaeze, others knock EFCC
From Chidi Nnadi, Enugu, Okey Sampson (Aba) and David Onwuchekwa, Nnewi
the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has condemned the recent arrest of the Chairman of the Innoson Group, Chief Innocent Chukwuma by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The President of Enugu State chapter of Ohanaeze, Chief Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia, who made the condemnation yesterday in Enugu, said that the EFCC action was a show of brutality, shame and absolute display of lawlessness.
The group, therefore, demanded an apology from the EFCC to Chukwuma.
“The illegal arrest of Chief Chukwuma even in the face of weighty and incriminating evidence against the Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) is condemnable in all its ramifications.
“Even more condemnable is the application of brute force by the operatives against the wife of Chief Chukwuma, who was not the target of the operatives.
“That the operatives could display such brutality against a woman indicates the level of bestiality in the Nigerian society,” the group said.
Ohanaeze insisted that Chukwuma is a genuine entrepreneur who has through dint of hard work built up a business empire that has offered employment to thousands on Nigerian youths.
“The barbarity displayed by the operatives of the EFCC against Chukwuma has reinforced the assumption that he was singled out for humiliation for no other reason than his capacity to succeed in a system that has limited Igbo enterprise for decades.
“It has also cast a dark and damnable pall over the pretensions of the government at fighting corruption, which many Nigerians perceive as manifestly selective. We condemn this action and urge the federal government to bring those involved in this show of shame to book,” the group said.
Ohanaeze Ndigbo said it strongly feels that entrepreneurs like Chief Chukwuma should be encouraged and not ridiculed in the manner he was handled by the EFCC.
“We wish to affirm that the Igbo are genuine and committed partners in the Nigerian project and government must avoid situations that would suggest it is witch-hunting a particular ethnic group.
“We demand, therefore, a public apology from the EFCC to Chief Chukwuma and indeed Nigerians,” the group said.
Lending his voice to the outpouring of condemnations trailing the EFCC action, immediate past president of Luxury Bus Owners Association of Nigeria,
Sir Dan Okemuo, described the action of the agency as an insult on the Igbo nation.
Recall that EFCC operatives from Lagos on Tuesday morning stormed the home of the auto manufacturer in Enugu in Gestapo fashion, arrested him and whisked him off to Lagos where he was held before being released after a firestorm of protest greeted the EFCC action. The anti-graft body claimed that Chukwuma had refused to honour its invitation.
Okemuo who is also the Chairman and Managing Director of Dan Dollars
Motors said no Igbo man was happy about the arrest of Chukwuma, because the Innoson boss is a man whose antecedents in business and integrity are unimpeachable.
“It is an insult on the Igbo nation. Whatever thing was the matter that made EFCC to arrest him, we are not happy, he is our son, we know his antecedents, and the way he has been carrying out his business, he is not the type that would get involved in shady deals.
“Chief Chukwuma is not the first Igbo man that should have been arrested either by EFCC or any other law enforcement agency, but this very one, EFCC got it wrong because we can vouch for his integrity.”
He spoke further: “Everybody knows that it was GTbank that instigated Chief Chukwuma’s arrest, but I can tell you that the banks are not saints. We are dealing with banks and we know how fraudulent some of the bank officials are. I was once a victim and I managed to survive. Therefore, I am talking from experience. It is unfortunate that the EFCC should violate a court order to arrest the business mogul for no just cause.”
He said it was no longer a case of an Nnewi man or Anambra affair, but that of the entire Igbo nation, adding that they all were standing by him because they know him to be a man of integrity.
Okemmuo assured that Igbo businessmen would not allow the matter to lie low.
He said that the Christmas period would be used to consult with South East governors on the way forward.
Also commenting on the ill-advised action taken by EFCC against the Innoson boss, Mayor of Amichi community and a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Nnewi South Local Government Area of Anambra State, Dr Jeff Okeke, called for the immediate resignation of the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Magu, over the arrest and detention of the Chukwuma.
Speaking with Sunday Sun at his Amichi residence, yesterday, Okeke said that Magu should not only resign but also tender an apology to Chukwuma, the Igbo and Nigeria at large, for insulting and humiliating a man with a national honour (OFR), who has been a major player in the nation’s economy.
“I find it difficult to believe that a man of Chukwuma’s calibre, an iroko in Igbo land and an industrial giant, who has made Nigeria proud in the automobile industry, could be so arrested and humiliated like a common criminal. It is a pity and I do not know where Nigeria is going. By insulting Chukwuma like that the perpetrators are indicting the federal government that honoured him with the award of Officer of Federal Republic Nigerian. That cannot be swept under the table,” Okeke said.
He said that arresting the Innoson Group chairman like he was a criminal without a court order and in a commando style smacked of military rule, adding that if he could be so arrested, the fundamental rights of the common man in the country is seriously in danger.
Also reacting, a lecturer and politician in Nnewi, Nnewi North Local Government Area, Anambra State, Hon. Okey Offor said that one would no longer be surprised why the Senate had refused to give its nod for Magu to remain the chairman of the anti-craft agency. He accused the EFCC of being politically and tribally selective in its anti-graft war. He wondered what concerned the agency with a civil matter between two corporate organizations, especially as an originating court case as well as appeals and counter-appeals on aspects of the matter were still in courts of competent jurisdiction.
“It is surprising that up till now the EFCC has not told Nigerians why they arrested Chief Innocent Chukwuma. It is obvious that if the Innoson Group chairman were to come from another ethnic group, he would not have been treated like that,” Offor said.