N2.5bn debt: We stand by our statement against Imo govt – Innoson
Nigerian indigenous automobile company, Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing, IVM, yesterday maintained that the Imo State Government is yet to pay N2.5 billion debt for the purchase of various IVM vehicles including their parts.
This is coming against the backdrop of
a press statement issued by the Commissioner for information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba on behalf of the Imo State Government.
Emelumba had alleged that the state government has serviced over 70 percent of the debt.
But in a swift reaction, IVM’s, Head, Corporate Communications and Affairs
Cornel Osigwe, noted that the statement was written to water down the facts and substance stated in the company’s earlier statement.
He said: “We do not wish to join words with Imo State Government as we now have it on good authority that it has engaged its e-dogs to discredit our brand in the media space. The matter is now before the courts and we have always believed in the integrity of the judiciary to do the right thing when facts are stated.
“However, to ensure that the public is not deceived by the so-called response, we have decided to puncture the pack of lies and further strengthen the facts.
1. On buying N5B worth of vehicles: In March 2020, Imo State Government under His Excellency, Senator Hope Uzodinma on the assumption of office as the Governor of Imo State procured and paid for its first set of Innoson Vehicles it ordered from the company. The Governor assured Innoson that his government will always patronize Innoson Vehicles for its vehicular needs. The details of this transaction were not done in secret but were carried in the media. See the link of the transactions as reported by a media outfit.
“After one year, specifically in April 2021, Imo State Government requested the supply of another set of vehicles with an understanding the State Government will pay for the vehicles after deliveries to them, just as was the case with the first transaction and which request was granted and honored. This particular transaction was reported by many news media.
“Innoson Vehicles has made all efforts since April 2021 through every means possible to make the Governor pay for the vehicles, all to no avail, even with the involvement of top officials in Government, clergies, and Bishops both with and outside Imo State to intervene on the matter, yet Imo State Government never responded to all these interventions.
“More so, Innoson Vehicles gave Imo State Government an option of setting up a payment plan on monthly basis, yet there was no response or word from the State Government. Approaching the courts to recover the debt was the last option for us since The Governor has rebuffed all entreaties made to him to pay us.
2. Contractual Agreement: it is not correct that Innoson Vehicles agreed with the Imo State Government that Innoson Vehicles will set up a Service Centre in Imo State. For the avoidance of doubt, Innoson Vehicles have various vehicle servicing partners in Imo State where Innoson Vehicles are maintained and serviced. More interestingly, Innoson Vehicles has its unique mobile workshop that provides maintenance and vehicle servicing to its clients.
“To the best of our knowledge, Innoson Vehicles has always maintained and serviced the vehicles supplied to the Imo State Government up to the stage the company decided to disengage its maintenance and servicing as a result of non-payment of servicing parts used which have risen to above 7M naira. This particular debt among others is what Innoson Vehicles has detailed to recover from the law court. Innoson Vehicles is not a charitable organization but a business concern that needs money to stay in business.
3. Debt Servicing. The statement on servicing of debt in all its entirety is false. Note especially that the mode of transaction Innoson Vehicles did with Imo State Government is not only peculiar with the State, but Innoson Vehicles have also used a similar model to many of its clients including state governments. We have some clients who couldn’t pay at once but entered a payment plan with the company even up to a 12months plan. Since the vehicles were delivered in April 2021, the State Government hasn’t paid one naira. The company has utilized every known means to make the state pay or negotiate a payment plan that will clear the debt but all to no avail.
4. On Not Being Served. The Honorable Commissioner is either being economical with the truth or not aware of happenings in his State. The defendants in the suit including the Attorney General of Imo State have been served by the bailiff of the honorable court.
5. In as much as Innoson Vehicles doesn’t delight in going to court with its customers over matters of this nature. In this instant case, seeking redress is the last option open to the company as the government was not disposed to settling the debt or reaching an understanding with the company on terms of settling the mounting debt. It was just indifferent and unmindful of the effect on the company.
“To us resort to court became the last port of call. Unfortunately, the government instead of addressing the issue of debt owed resorted to blackmail and de-marketing tactics as a spurious defense.
“The discerning public is not deceived. There are several receipts of letters and messages sent to the State Government and the Governor appealing to his conscience that the nonpayment of this debt or its servicing will lead to the shut down of operations of Innoson Vehicles, not for once did we get any response of hope from the Governor.
5. Innoson Vehicles is urging the Imo State Government to do the needful and pay its debt with the accruing interest so that the case will be withdrawn from court.”