The Senate on Wednesday expressed outrage on the arrest of the Chief Executive Officer of Innoson Motors Nigeria, Innocent Chukwuma by the operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in his Enugu residence, describing the development as worrisome.
The EFCC arrested the Innoson boss on Tuesday on allegation that he had jumped bail, while also shunning earlier summons it extended to him without explanation.
Senators after Senators roundly condemned the action by the EFCC, accusing the agency of meddling in what they described as a business transaction between Innoson Motors and his bankers, Guarantee Trust Bank.
Against this backdrop, it mandated its committee on Anti Corruption and Financial Crimes to carry out a thorough investigation on the reported raid by the EFCC on Innoson boss and to report its findings back to senate within twenty four hours.
This decision followed a Point of Order (42 and 52) raised by the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu who expressed surprise on how a mere business transaction between Innocent Chukwuma and GT Bank suddenly had the EFCC as an interested party.
Ekweremdu said he could not understand why EFCC allegedly stormed the home of Chukwuma breaking into the premises and giving the impression that the EFCC was at the premises to arrest a common criminal.
He said “At the inception of the Senate we took an oath to defend the constitution, one of the most important part of our constitution is the one that deals with the liberty of our citizens”
He told his colleagues how Innocent Chukwuma was involved in a transaction with the GTBank; the disagreement that ensued over a loan the industrialist took and had repaid and the said disagreements prompted the invitation of an auditor to ascertain what percentage will accrue to either of the party leading to a point where the EFCC was allegedly being invited to muscle Chukwuma.
He also told the Senate that the victim was still being held in EFCC custody without knowing what his offences were.
He said “As I speak Mr Innocent is yet to be informed of what led to his arrest” “ If you go through the entire story you will think he owes the GTB. As a lawyer, I wonder how a transaction between a customer and his bank could involve the EFCC”, he said.
The Deputy President of the Senate also revealed to his colleagues that Chukwuma, while talking to him on phone said the loan was paid in full but the bank had consistently deducted money from his account.
The situation, Ekweremadu added, compelled the victim to engage an auditor who ascertained his claim and found that some over-deductions have been made and the matter was taken to court where it is presently been heard.
In his remarks, Senator Ehinaya Abaribe warned of the dangers which, according to him, the action by the EFCC portends for the business environment in Nigeria.
He said, “If we are not careful all of us will fall victim of this, yesterday a Principal Officer was invited to the EFCC. What we don’t know is what motivates them. EFCC in its Twitter handle said they invited Innocent but he refused to come, Innocent said he was never invited”, he said.
“The Wife of Innocent asked why her husband was arrested and she was slapped. How can a commercial transaction between a man and his bank involve the EFCC. How can state institutions be used for personal purposes? It means EFC is involved in self help, we are not running a Banana Republic” Abaribe stressed.
Senator Barnabas Gemade in his contributions attributed the action by the EFCC to monetary inducement, a reason he said the agency threw decency to the wind by rusing to grab someone he described as a good and public spirited investor like the CEO of Innoson motors.
He said “Banks who trade in money have become laws in the country. Money is such a scarce commodity that those that deal in it are laws unto themselves. Bankers are parasites feeding fat on the system, those producing goods and services are more important to us that bank Managers and Directors.
The Senate Deputy Leader, Ibn N’allah lamented that some of the issues that occur in Nigeria would never happen in more civilised world.
“These things don’t happen in other climes, before you cross someone’s gate, it must be for very compelling reasons, is there no way to follow a civilized standard to bring him to answer to questions, rather than to break his fence and arrest him”