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FG distances self from arrest, detention of Innoson boss


Chairman of Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing (IVM) Innoson Group, Dr. Innocent Ifediaso Chukwuma

• Chukwuma returns, recounts ordeal with EFCC
The Federal Government has distanced itself from the arrest and detention of the Chief Executive Officer of Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing, Chief Innocent Chukwuma, by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Specifically, the anti-graft agency on Wednesday flew Chukwuma by Air Peace airline from the Akanu Ibiam International Airport to Lagos after being detained for over 24 hours after being whisked from his Enugu residence. The automaker has, however, alleged that his ordeal was a fallout of his firm’s legal dispute with a new generation bank over a loan taken and repaid some years ago.

There is a judgment debt of about N8 billion in favour of Innoson but an appeal by the bank is pending at the Supreme Court.The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, made the denial yesterday while fielding questions from reporters at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.

His words: “Relevant agencies are yet to officially informed me of the circumstances that culminated in the alleged arrest of Chukwuma,” adding that the EFCC was yet to brief him. Consequently, he could not give more details on the development.He continued: “In all sincerity, I was not privy to facts that led to the stated arrest. I have not been formally briefed by the relevant agencies.

“One thing I know about Innoson is the fact that there has been a pending case between him and GTBank which case is pending in court and is being prosecuted accordingly. “Other than that, I am not privy to the fact and circumstances that led to the alleged arrest yesterday (Wednesday). So, until I am briefed by the relevant agencies, I am not in the clear position to make any disclosure relating to that.”

However, Chukwuma yesterday returned to Enugu to a rousing reception.Dressed in traditional fabrics, the Innoson boss declared that he was picked like a “common criminal” from his residence by EFCC operatives.

He said: “I thank everybody who fought for this matter because I was surprised that in the early morning of that Tuesday, some armed persons jumped into my house. I thought they were kidnappers or armed robbers but finally I noticed they were EFCC officials.”

It was around 7:30a.m. in the morning. They said they want to arrest me and I joined them to their office and up till now they have not told me my offence.“They arrested me like a criminal and took me to their office in Enugu and from there to the airport on shorts and singlet to Lagos. When I got to their office, they said I should go but they didn’t tell me what I did.”

Also yesterday, the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign state of Biafra (MASSOB) described the invasion of the complex of Chukwuma as an insult to Igbo race.

In a statement by its leader, Comrade Uchenna Madu, he condemned the condemned the development, noting that the action was hatched by the Federal Government in consonance with its alleged hatred for Ndigbo.

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