The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has released the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Innoson Motors, Mr Innocent Chukwuma.
EFCC confirmed in a statement that the Nnewi-born Industrialist was released on Wednesday, a day after he was arrested at his Enugu residence.
Spokesman for the anti-graft agency, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, who signed the statement, said Chukwuma was arrest on Tuesday following his refusal to respond to invitations by the Commission.
He said the businessman who runs a local auto assembly plant was initially granted administrative bail by the Commission while his surety could also not be found.
The statement read in part: “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, Emeni, 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.
“His 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.”
Uwujaren said the Innoson boss is being investigated alongside his brother, Charles Chukwuma, who is said to be at large by the EFCC over matters bordering on N1,478,366,859.66 alleged fraud and forgery.
He added that the industrialist allegedly used forged documents to secure tax waivers among other infractions.
Moments after the news of his release, Chukwuma’s company said on their Twitter handle that he has refused the bail granted him by the Commission and was demanding to why he was arrested.
When contacted via telephone, the EFCC spokesman, however, confirmed to Channels Television that the industrialist had left their custody.
Chukwuma’s release, however, comes hours after the Innoson Group disagreed with the anti-graft agency and faulted the allegations levelled against its CEO.
The Group, in a statement signed by its Head of Corporate Communications, Cornel Osigwe, said Chukwuma never ignored invitation extended to him by the commission, neither did he mobilised thugs to manhandle any EFCC official.
“Chukwuma is a law-abiding citizen; there is no how he would be invited by the EFCC and he would ignore or refuse to honour the invitation. Dr Chukwuma has never had any issues or query from the EFCC recently.
“The last issue he had with EFCC was an invitation extended to him in 2012 based on a complaint against him by Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB), which he duly honoured.
“We challenge EFCC to show proof and evidence of EFCC invitation extended to Dr Chukwuma; the various dates of the invitation and the letter of the invitation extended to him,” the statement had read.
The arrest has also sparked criticism and attracted the attention of the Senate which mandated its Committee on Financial Crimes and Anti-Corruption to investigate the actions of the EFCC.
The lawmakers also accused the Commission of using the military approach on citizens and directed the committee to report back on Thursday, December 21.
FULL PRESS RELEASE BY INNOSSON GROUP
Dr Innocent Chukwuma (OFR) was this evening released by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. He initially refused to leave their premises because the Commission did not officially communicate to him why he was arrested like a common criminal.
After carefully reading through the Commissions Press release on their Official Facebook page tonight, we deem it fit to tell Nigerians who has stood and supported Dr Innocent Chukwuma in no small measure during his unjust detention by the EFCC the truth and our own side of the story.
1. First and foremost, We reiterate that EFCC’s claim that they invited Dr Innocent Chukwuma (INNOSON) and he refused to honour same invite as false. We urge them to show Nigerians dated proof that he was duly invited by the Commission. Dr Chukwuma is a man of impeccable character and a law abiding citizen. He will never disrespect or disregard a constituted authority.
2. The Commissions claim that that Dr Chukwuma resisted arrest is laughable. His residence was raided at 5am. They don’t expect him to run out and hand himself to whoever it was that came for him. He waited to be sure about the identity of the people that invaded his premises before coming out. Dr Chukwuma has nothing to hide or be afraid of.
3. EFCC alleged that Dr Chukwuma hired Six truck-loads of thugs to manhandle operatives of the Commission. This is preposterous. The people that invaded Dr Chukwuma’s residence were armed to the teeth. How can people without arms attack fully armed operatives of the commission?
The supposedly thugs are well meaning Nigerians who are making an honest living from Innoson Group. They merely came to protest and show solidarity to their Chairman who was about being whisked away in a gestapo styled arrest.
The commission also claimed no single shot was fired despite the provocation. This is a figment of their imagination. This is a clear deviation from the truth. Innocent protesting workers were teargased. We have images to back up this claim.
4. The Commission said Dr Innocent Chukwuma and his Brother Mr Charles Chukwuma is being investigated for forgery. Can they show Nigerians a dated Petition to them and who the petition came from.
5. Finally, We would like Nigerians to know that we have a dispute with Guarantee Trust Bank which arose from a business deal that went wrong. This case is on final appeal at the Supreme Court. We won’t want to comment on this because it will be subjudice to do so.
We implore everyone to wait till The Judiciary which remains the final arbiter to adjudicate and give their judgement in this matter.
We have been harassed and extremely provoked as a company since this issue arose but we have kept faith in our Legal system.
For Innoson Group:
Head Corporate Communications