GTBank speaks on Innoson, EFCC controversy

EFCC operative used to illustrate the story
EFCC operative used to illustrate the story

Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) on Thursday said it would continue to report any untoward and criminal activity to law enforcement agencies despite the criticism it has faced following the arrest of businessman Innocent Chukwuma.

The bank, in a notice sent to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), on Thursday, said it would however not comment on a case already under investigation by the appropriate authorities.

The notice to the stock exchange is against the backdrop of the controversy involving the bank and Chief Executive Officer of Innoson Motors, Innocent Chukwuma.

Mr. Chukwuma was arrested on Tuesday morning at his residence in Enugu by officers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) who remanded him at their field office in the city. He was later released on bail on Wednesday evening.

The EFCC said it arrested and detained the industrialist after attempts to summon him were rebuffed.

But Cornel Osigwe, a spokesperson for Innoson debunked the claim by the EFCC, saying the businessman was never invited prior to his arrest and dared the anti-graft agency to present evidence of invitation to Nigerians.

Mr. Osigwe blamed the GTBank for orchestrating the arrest of his principal, a claim the bank denied in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES shortly after Mr. Chukwuma was arrested Tuesday.

Mr. Chukwuma and GTBank have been locked in a prolonged legal battle over claims by the industrialist that the bank made arbitrary deductions in his bank accounts.

The bank countered the allegations, saying it was Mr. Chukwuma who allegedly falsified bank and shipping documents.

In its notice to the stock exchange, signed by the company secretary, Erhi Obebeduo, the bank urged Nigerians to ignore all sorts of innuendoes being purportedly spread across the social media against the bank.

“The bank would however not be dettered from pursuing appropriate actions either in respect of its delinquent loans or reporting any untoward/criminal activity for investigations by the appropriate authorities.

“The Bank as a custodian of depositors’funds views it’s obligation to deepositors with a high sense of responsibility and would jealously protect such funds and take appropriate steps to recover debts from any recalcitrant debtor,” the notice said.

The bank also reacted to speculations that its customers were withdrawing their money and subsequently closing their accounts following the business disagreement with Innoson.

“The attention of Guaranty Trust Bank plc has been drawn to publications in the news and social media which purports that customers of the Bank are closing their accounts with the Bank, and urging the Bank’s esteemed customers to withdraw their money from the Bank as a result of this.

“These statements are completely false, baseless and malicious,” the bank said on its official Facebook page on Thursday.

Following the arrest of Mr. Chukwuma on Tuesday, some people, mostly from the South-East geopolitical zone, began calling on customers of GTbank to withdraw their money and close their accounts at the bank.

Chief among the speculations that floated around the social media was that about N18Bn had been withdrawn and over 2.7 million accounts closed within two days after the arrest.

But the bank countered the claim, saying its operations remained stable and advised the general public to “disregard rumours, innuendoes and false statements that are being spread by mischievous elements, both in the news and on social media.”

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