Innoson vs GTB: Is EFCC GTBank’s company or a federal government agency?

EFCC
EFCC Operatives

GTBank total indebtedness to Innoson as at today arising from judgment debts is over N20Billion.

Ever since 2012, GTB has been using the reins of EFCC machinery to destroy Innoson’s businesses and reputation in an issue EFCC should stand as an unbiased umpire. EFCC choose to take sides with GTB PLC for reasons best known to it. EFCC is a Federal Government Agency, created by law to fight against financial crimes and provide law and order in the business environment based on objective principles. This time, EFCC has taken the side of subjectivity.

How EFCC has been unfair to Innoson since 2012

In a counter affidavit deposed to on 2nd August 2012 in Suit No: FHC/AWK/CS/138/2012 which Innoson commenced against EFCC for freezing its account in all the Banks in Nigeria pursuant to GTBank’s petition. EFCC acknowledged in Paragraph 4:

“4. In opposing the Applicants Suit, I hereby state as follows:

(a) That on 9th September, 2011, the Chambers of Anoka & Associates, 195 Ikorodu Road, Palmgrove, Lagos on behalf of Guaranty Trust Bank sent a petition to our office against Ist (Innoson Nig Ltd) and 4th (DrInnocent Chukwuma) Applicants herein, alleging criminal conversion, fraudulent diversion of about N1.5billion and fraud etc”.

EFCC went further in the said Affidavit particularly in paragraph 15 that after investigation it could not confirm the allegations against Innoson/Innocent Chukwuma.

From the above affidavit, EFCC confirmed that their actions against Innoson were based on a petition to them by GTB. Interestingly EFCC admitted in their affidavit to the court that at the conclusion of their investigation; it could not confirm the allegations (alleging criminal conversion, fraudulent diversion of about N1.5billion and fraud etc) against Innoson. This affidavit was deposed on 2nd August 2012.

Consequently, through its letter of 20th September 2012, EFCC informed Innoson that “further to our investigation and resolve that your account be reconciled from inception, the final outcome of the Commission’s reconciliation of the account” is that you are indebted to GTB in this matter, and therein, EFCC requested Innoson to pay N1Billion and N95Million to GTB.

Note specifically, EFCC never stated in their letter of 20th September 2012 that Innoson forged any shipping document or GTB’s staff’s signatures thereon to clear the goods evidenced by the bill of ladings. This is evidenced by an earlier Affidavit deposed by EFCC on 2nd August 2012 in Suit No: FHC/AWK/CS/138/2012 in paragraph 15, where EFCC confessed that after investigation it could not confirm the allegations against Innoson/Innocent Chukwuma.

The followings are the outcome of EFCC investigation in GTB petition against Innoson. EFCC confirmed that:

a. GTB stole N560Million from Innoson’s current account with it – though Innoson maintained that GTB stole N780Million from its account;

b. Innoson collected all the Bills of Lading consigned to GTB with the consent of GTB;

c. before collection, Innoson wrote letters to GTB asking it to endorse the bill of ladings to it and to pay the duties necessary for clearing the goods from the seaport;

d. GTB paid Customs duties for all the bill of ladings Innoson used to clear the goods, including the ones GTB claimed were forged or that the signatures of its staff thereof were forged;

e. GTB released all the Bill of Ladings including the one in issue to Innoson and that Innoson signed for each of the bill of Ladings in a register kept by GTB – GTB released the Bill of Lading after Innoson signed the register;

f. GTB failed to produce the register claiming that it was destroyed by the fire that razed its office;

g. after clearing each good including the ones evidenced by the bill of lading in issue, Innoson returned the foreign exchange control copies to GTB and GTB transmitted them to Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN);

h. GTB released the original copies of Risk Assessment Report (RAR) in respect of all the containers and the original receipts of the duties it paid in respect of them to Innoson. Note that without the original copies of the RAR and receipts for payment of duties that Customs will never release any container to anybody no matter the number of bills of lading the person presents to Customs.

i. a GTB staff – Mr. Okechukwu Okeke – who transacted with Innoson’s staff gave evidence that GTB released the bill of ladings in issue to Innoson’s staff genuinely;

j. the shipping company – Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. – whose ship carried the goods confirmed that the bill of ladings – including the ones in issue – were not forged and that none of GTB’s staff’s signatures endorsed thereon was forged.

However, Innoson rejected and declined EFCC’s demand contained in its letter
of 20th September, 2012 on the ground that GTB shall pay it interest on the
N560Million it acknowledged it stole at 22% being the rate at which GTB lent it money. This resulted in a stalemate and Innoson headed to the court in Suit No. FHC/AWK/CS/139/2012 against GTBank at the Federal High Court, Awka Division.

At the court, the trial Judge rendered judgment on 16th May 2013, in the sum of N4.7Billion in favour of Innoson against GTBank. When this happened, that is after this judgment; GTBank rushed back to EFCC and got EFCC to institute Charge No. ID/197C/2013 in December 2013 against Innoson in a matter EFCC has investigated, concluded and cleared Innoson.

This charge was later struck out in 2014 by the order of the court. Innoson appealed against the order to the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division. In this appeal, Innoson filed motion on notice praying among others that EFCC be restrained from filing a further charge in respect of the same subject matter until determination of the appeal –Appeal Nos: CA/L/1328CM/17, CA/L/1329CM/17 & CA/L/1330CM/17.

Despite this, EFCC still filed Charge No. 1D/6696C/2017. Furthermore, EFCC knew that Charge No. FHC/L/565c/2015 is pending at the Federal High Court, Lagos Division between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Innoson on the same subject matter, and charges. This charge is being prosecuted by the Office of the Attorney General of Federation and it was instigated by GTB.

While all these charges are still pending, EFCC in flagrance abuse of office and disobedience to rule of law arrested Innoson unlawfully on December 19th 2017 and subsequently filed a charge against him at the Lagos State High Court on the same matter. By this, Innoson is facing charges in various courts in respect of the same subject matter and charges just to do the bidding of GTB.

With EFCC actions towards Innoson, one wonders whether EFCC is GTB’s private company or still a Federal Government Agency.

This is because, EFCC confirmed during their investigation that GTB stole N560Million from Innoson’s account, till date EFCC never prosecuted GTB for that action.

EFCC confirmed during their investigation that GTB paid Customs duties for all the bill of ladings Innoson used to clear the goods, including the ones GTB claimed were forged or that the signatures of its staff thereof were forged.

EFCC confirmed during their investigation that GTB released all the Bill of Ladings including the one in issue to Innoson and that Innoson signed for each of the bill of Ladings in a register kept by GTB – GTB released the Bill of Lading after Innoson’s staff signed the register.

EFCC confirmed during their investigation that GTB failed to produce the register claiming that it was destroyed by the fire that razed its office.

EFCC confirmed during their investigation that after clearing each good including the ones evidenced by the bill of lading in issue, Innoson returned the foreign exchange control copies to GTB and GTB transmitted them to Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

EFCC confirmed that GTB released the original copies of Risk Assessment Report (RAR) in respect of all the containers and the original receipts of the duties it paid in respect of them to Innoson. Note that without the original copies of the RAR and receipts for payment of duties that Customs will never release any container to anybody no matter the number of bills of lading the person presents to Customs.

In spite of all these confirmations, EFCC in trying to do the bidding of GTB have allowed itself to be used to destroy Nigeria foremost industrialist.

Is this fair?

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