Innoson boss reacts to arrest warrant, says GTBank is responsible

The founder and chairman of Innoson Nigeria Limited, Innocent Chukwuma has reacted to the arrest warrant issued by the Federal High Court yesterday. The court had granted the request of a Director in the Ministry of Justice to arrest Chukwuma and two others, in order to arraign him in court to face criminal charges.

Chukwuma in a series of tweets on his company’s Twitter account, @innosonvehicles, stated that Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank) was behind the arrest warrant issued, stating that the issuance of bench warrant against him is an abuse of process taken too far.

Nairametrics had reported that Justice Ayokunle Faji granted the request made by the prosecutor, Mr Julius Ajakaiye to arrest Chukwuma, Charles Chukwu, and Anajekwu Sunny over their refusal to present themselves in court for a case bordering on conspiracy, forgery, and fraud to the tune of N2.4 billion filed by the IGP through the Federal Ministry of Justice sometime in December 2015.

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The three, alongside Innoson Nigeria Limited and a shipping company, Mitsui Osk, were charged before the court, but only Mitsui Osk was represented in court. So Ajakaiye informed the court that the warrant of arrest was in pursuant with sections 113, 114 and 395 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015.

Chukwuma refuted the charges in a press release sent to Nairametrics. He explained that there is no prima facie case against him. According to Chukwuma, the charge was based on suspected action of Innoson Nigeria Limited, and Innoson Nigeria Limited was a party originally to the charge but was discharged by the Court of Appeal. Recall that Nairametrics reported that the Appeal Court discharged Innoson Motors.

No grounds for arrest warrant: The Innoson boss said that there was no notice of trial served on him in pursuant to the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.

He disclosed that a case is pending in the Supreme Court to determine whether he was served with the charge, adding that the charge is also an abuse because of a similar suit in relation to the charge pending at different Federal High Courts.

But this is not the first time an arrest warrant will be issued against Chukwuma. Justice Mojisola Dada of the special offences court in Lagos had done same in 2018. He had also been arrested by Nigeria’s anti-graft agencyEconomic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2017, an incident many believed was in connection to Innoson Motor’s ongoing case with GTBank. The bank, however, issued a statement denying their involvement in the development.

Note that the act provides that before the court should issue a bench warrant, there must be proof of service of the charge and the notice of trial on the person involved.

Police dropped charge against him: Chukwuma further stated that the basis of the arrest warrant was no longer valid as the Police had withdrawn the 2015 charge (CHARGE NO: FHC/L/565/2015) filed against him on February 17, 2016. The withdrawal was filed at the Federal High Court Registry in Lagos.

GT Bank’s alleged involvement:

  • According to Chukwuma, GTB compelled an unnamed Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to claim to have taken over the Charge/case using the name of the Attorney General of the Federation after the Police had withdrawn the case.
  • The DPP was eventually dismissed from his position due to his involvement in this matter and his complicities, Chukwuma alleged in the statement.
  • Why GTBank is pulling the strings according to Chukwuma is to compel the Innoson Motors chairman to negotiate from a ‘weaker position’ in a case involving Innoson Motors and GTBank.
  • What transpired between GTB and Innoson: The company claims that GTBank lost a Supreme Court appeal for it to rescind the lower court’s decision for it to pay back Innoson N2.4 billion plus interest at 22% per annum in “illegal charges” against the car maker.
  • According to Innoson, the Judgment debt of N2.4 billion has an accrued interest of about N6,717,909,849.96 as of 2019, which results in about N8.8 Billion, but as of 2014, it was N6 billion.

In the statement, the company urged GTBank to comply with the Supreme Court judgment and pay the over N9 billion judgment debt within the unstated time-frame given to the bank or Innoson will execute the Writ of Fifa against GTBank.

What is a Writ of Fifa: This is a court document used by the successful plaintiff to enforce the judgment of a court by taking a lien on a property of the defendant that it believes is worth more than the amount being owed.

Meanwhile, he disclosed that he has filed a suit to appeal against the Order of Bench Warrant to the Court of Appeal and have as well filled a Motion for Stay of Execution of the Order.

GTBank is yet to respond to the accusation of perpetrating the arrest warrant of Chukwuma.

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