By Moses Akaigwe
More than one year after supplying sundry vehicle models to the Imo State Government, Nnewi-based Innoson Innoson Vehicles Manufacturing (IVM) has filed a suit against Gov Hope Uzodinma and his administration to recover the total cost of the automobiles valued at over N2.5billion.
The indigenous auto maker, which is a member of the Innoson Group, said in a statement that it resorted to litigation following the failure of the Imo State Government to pay or service the debt of N2,547,666,435.00 (about $6.3m), being the purchase price of the various IVM Vehicles including their parts which IVM manufactured, sold and delivered to it.
The statement signed by Cornel Osigwe, Head, Corporate Communications and Affairs for Innoson Group, said the lawsuit became the last resort, because “the Imo State Governor or its government has refused and failed to pay the debt despite repeated demands and appeals.”
Osigwe also disclosed that the suit was filed by Prof Joseph N Mbadugha, SAN, of McCarthy Mbadugha & Co, the counsel to Innoson Vehicles, after “repeated attempts made by the Chairman/CEO of IVM, Chief Dr. Innocent Chukwuma, to the governor urging him to pay the company.”
According to him, the deal was struck sometime in April 2021, when Gov. Uzodinma invited Chief Chukwuma to the Imo State Government House, Owerri where they discussed and agreed that IVM would sell and supply various specifications of its brand of vehicles to the Imo State Government.
Specifically, the vehicles include 70 units of Innoson five-seater double cabin pick-up (IVM Carrier) 4WD; 10 units of Innoson five-seater double cabin military pick up (IVM G12); 10 units of Innoson five-seater single cabin military pick-up (IVM G12); and 100 units of a complete siren with public address system, revolving light, and street police light; The UVM models purchased by Imo State also included two units of IVM ambulance vehicle; 20 units of IVM G12 MS11; and 20 sets of B. canopy
Innoson Vehicles lamented that special privilege and favour granted to the governor following his request, “turned into a nightmare for Innoson Vehicles and Its Chairman after Chief Chukwuma had at various times through several visits, phone calls, messages, and submission of letters requesting payment appealed to the governor and his conscience to make total payments or set up a payment plan that will offset the debt.
When the reporter got wind of the debt recently and contacted the Chief Press Secretary to the Imo State Governor, Oguike Nwachukwu, he dismissed it as untrue.