Innoson And GTB – Matters Arising | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Comment, Opinion

Innoson And GTB – Matters Arising

Posted: Jul 17, 2015 at 12:06 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Chukwudi Enekwechi

 

Once again Nigerians are regaled with schemings by certain vested interests to undermine Federal Government’s avowed determination to extricate our automobile sector from the several decades of its domination by foreigners. Just about a decade ago the INNOSON Group, an indigenous conglomerate took up the gauntlet to  save Nigeria from the intractable problem of importing all manner of vehicles into the country by setting up the very first indigenous automobile manufacturing factory at Nnewi, Anambra State.

In doing so, they intended to answer the clarion call of the Federal Government for local manufacture of vehicles. Hitherto, it was unthinkable that vehicles can ever be manufactured in our domestic environment. Indeed, it was thought to be an activity that was restricted to the Americans, Europeans and later Asians, but INNOSON broke the record, and today following INNOSON’s innovation, several automakers have chosen to establish motor manufacturing plants in Nigeria.

With this innovation there is no doubt that thousands of Nigerians have been gainfully employed in the automobile industry. Additionally, Nigeria is saving huge amount of foreign exchange being used in the importation of foreign made vehicles.

It is instructive to note that INNOSON had similarly led the same revolution in local manufacturing of motorcycles, when several years ago through his ingenuity crashed prices of motorcycles by engaging in local manufacturing. To his eternal credit prices of motorcycles are today affordable to ordinary Nigerians.

It therefore becomes intriguing that in the course of  INNOSON’s many years of  patriotic business efforts to help grow the nation’s economy that certain vested interests are yet to key into the same vision which is aimed at supporting Federal Government’s efforts in the area of speedy industrialization.

In this regard, I intend to make reference to ongoing legal tussle between INNOSON and GTB over a garnishee order absolute by a court of law in favor of INNOSON, and against the bank account of Nigerian Customs domiciled with GTB. The court having ordered GTB to pay INNOSON over Two Billion naira from the custom account since 2006, GTB embarked on intrigues aimed at frustrating the payment of the judgment debt.

Suffice of to say that GTB has been in and out of several courts in Nigeria with and against INNOSON, and yet they have been unable to obtain any judgment to vitiate the substance of INNOSON’S claims. Lest I forget, the case against Customs by INNOSON emanated from the illegal seizure and auctioning of the company’s imported goods sometime in 2006. The point is that INNOSON had obtained favourable judgments from several courts in Lagos, Ibadan, Enugu, and Awka, both at the High Courts and Court of Appeal against GTB on this and other matters yet GTB remain recalcitrant.

For instance INNOSON had sued GTB over N 559 million bank excess charges on his company’s account with the bank and got a favourable judgment against GTB, and still the bank is yet to pay. Again all the lawsuits instituted by GTB against INNOSON at the Court of Appeal both in Ibadan and Enugu have been ruled in favour of INNOSON. So the question is, what does GTB want?

It is expected, that as a responsible corporate body, GTB will save itself from needless public odium, disgrace and distaste by doing the needful. It does not portray a bank in good light to engage in hostile relationship with its customers   more so when they are high valued ones that the Federal Government depend on for Nigeria’s industrial renaissance.

INNOSON is a valuable asset to Nigeria and all hands must be on deck to ensure that their patriotic efforts in leading Nigeria’s industrial revolution are not truncated.

Perhaps, the most surprising aspect of the issue is why GTB appears to be crying more than the bereaved. In the case involving Nigeria Customs, it is rather astonishing that it’s GTB that is in the forefront. One begins to wonder how much pecuniary interest they have in the matter. Furthermore, the preponderance of court cases in all the matters between both parties (INNOSON and GTB), INNOSON had won, and one begins to raise eyebrows whether GTB has a modicum of respect for the Nigerian Judiciary.

Across the globe, Nigerian Judiciary has been acknowledged to be above board, and therefore it is also expected of corporate institutions like GTB to accord them requisite respect and honour.

Furthermore, it is mutually beneficial for both parties to continue to collaborate in business as they ought to, and the onus is on GTB to lead in this regard, for as the popular saying goes, “a customer is always right”.

Regarding the issue of GTB dragging INNOSON to the EFCC and Police, it is pertinent to point out that both institutions have never indicted INNOSON for any wrong doing. In fact, the former Inspector General of Police Mohammed Abubakar had asked GTB in the course of investigation of endorsement of Bills of Lading to produce the register they mutually signed with INNOSON on the imported goods, but GTB failed to produce the register.  This was also the same finding by EFCC. Subsequently, the Inspector General cautioned GTB over frivolous allegations.

In addressing the legal tussle between INNOSON and GTB, there is the need to raise some fundamental questions:

1.     Despite GTB’s claim that INNOSON is indebted to it in the sum of N 2.4 billon, and cleared goods without its endorsing the Bills of Lading to it, why is GTB losing all the cases in various Nigerian courts to INNOSON?

2.     The N560 million excess charges which GTB imposed and debited INNOSON’s account with it, is it depositors’ fund?

3.     The compound interest which GTB was charging on the excess charge of

N560 million which resulted in the judgment debt of over N4.7 billion in suit No: FHC/AWK/CS/139/2012 is it depositors’ fund?

4.     Why did GTB pay the Customs duties necessary for clearing of the goods evidenced by the Bills of Lading?

5.     Why did GTB receive from INNOSON and sent to the CBN exchange control copies  evidencing the clearing of the goods represented by the Bills of Lading by INNOSON?

In conclusion, it must be realized that INNOSON has been in business for over three decades dealing with 15 banks, and none of them has any problem with the company and it’s Chief Executive. Why is GTB different? This is food for thought!