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Innoson Boss, Chukwuma, Rejects His Release by EFCC

More than 24 hours after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) stormed the residence of the chief executive officer and founder of Innoson Vehicles Manufacturing (IVM) Group, Mr. Innocent Chukwuma, and arrested him over a commercial dispute between him and his bank – Guaranty Trust Bank Plc (GTBank) – the commission Wednesday released him on bail.

But the businessman has rejected his release by the commission on the grounds that he had not been informed by the commission the reason for his arrest.

In a Twitter post Wednesday night, IVM said: “Innoson has refused his release because he is demanding to know the reason for his arrest.”

This was just as his arrest on Tuesday morning was roundly condemned by the Senate, the Ohanaeze youth wing, Igbo elders and others from the South-east, with the lawmakers querying the role of the anti-graft agency in a commercial dispute between the firm and its banker, which they said was already before the Supreme Court.

However, in a statement Wednesday, EFCC’s Head of Media and Publicity Wilson Uwujaren said: “The businessman who runs a local auto assembly plant was arrested on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 at his Enugu residence, following his refusal to respond to invitations by the commission, after initially being granted administrative bail by the commission, while his surety could also not be found.

“Unfortunately, the industrialist resisted arrest and stirred controversy by bringing six truck-loads of thugs to block the entrance to his Plot W1, Industrial Layout, Abakaliki Road, Emene, Enugu home.

“This was after he initially misled the Police Command by informing them that his home had been invaded by armed robbers and kidnappers, despite the fact that operatives of the commission duly identified themselves to policemen guarding his home.”

Uwujaren alleged that Chukwuma’s “unruly thugs” encircled and manhandled operatives of the commission who had gone to effect the arrest.

“Consequently, a distress call was sent to the commission’s Enugu office for reinforcement.

“In all of this, the commission’s operatives acted with decorum and civility. No one was manhandled or assaulted by the EFCC team, and not a single shot was fired, despite the provocation.

“Chief Chukwuma and his brother, Charles Chukwuma (who is still at large) are being investigated by the Insurance and Capital Market Fraud Section of the commission’s office in Lagos over matters bordering on N1,478,366,859.66 fraud and forgery.

“The industrialist, among other infractions, allegedly used forged documents to secure tax waivers,” the commission alleged.

However, before Chukwuma’s release on bail, the Senate Wednesday decried what it called the Gestapo-style arrest of the businessman by operatives of the commission and the alleged manhandling of Chukwuma’s wife in the course of the arrest.

The Senate also directed its Committee on Anti-corruption and Financial Crimes to investigate the matter and the role of the EFCC and report back Thursday.

 

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