N14 billion judgment: Innoson Motors denies retracting position

N14 billion judgment: Innoson Motors denies retracting position

Innoson Motors on Wednesday said its earlier position on the outcome of the Supreme Court sitting in a suit involving GTBank remains valid.

The suit involved a temporary motion brought by GTBank in an ongoing dispute over transaction charges.

The indigenous automaker said, by implication, last week’s Supreme Court decision means GTBank must deposit N14 billion with the Court of Appeal.

The Enugu Division of the Court of Appeal reportedly asked GTBank to pay about N6 billion into an interest-yielding account in a 2014 decision.

But Innoson said its calculation showed that the money had grown to N14 billion because GTBank failed to comply with the order when the Court of Appeal first handed it down in 2014.

A Wednesday night statement signed by Cornel Osigwe, corporate communications lead at Innoson Group, said a tweet that came from the company’s official Twitter handle on Monday was unauthorised.

The Twitter post, which was later deleted, said Innoson was sorry for distorting the facts to misinform the public on the outcome of Supreme Court’s sitting on a temporary motion over the matter on June 7.

“We want to state categorically that at no time did we ever recant from our position that GTBank shall within 14 days pay the sum of over N14 billion judgment debt to the Deputy Chief Registrar of the Court of Appeal Enugu Division and which shall be paid into an interest yielding account in a reputable bank,” Mr Osigwe said.

“We maintain that by the Supreme Court’s decision on June 7, 2018, in which the bank struck out application of the motion for stay of the execution filed by GTBank, GTBank is advised within 14 days from the date of the Supreme Court decision striking out its application to obey the subsisting order of the Court of Appeal and pay the judgment debt to the Deputy Chief Register of the Court and which sum of money the Deputy Chief Register shall pay into an interest yielding account in a reputable bank,” the spokesperson added.

According to Osigwe,  the employee responsible for the problematic tweet had been dismissed and Innoson had severed business ties with the agency that was managing the account.

The money was to be deposited in an account under the supervision of the deputy chief registrar in charge of the Enugu Division of the Court of Appeal. But GTbank rejected the ruling and filed an appeal to the Supreme Court for a stay of execution.

The bank responded to the outcome of the Supreme Court proceeding on Monday by countering Innoson’s claims that the bank was asked to deposit N14 billion into an interest-yielding account monitored by the Court of Appeal.

However, the bank did not say what the Supreme Court actually decided, saying its institutional values bar it from commenting on an ongoing litigation.

Innocent Chukwuma, founder of Innoson Motors, dragged GTBank to court in 2011, alleging arbitrary charges leveled against him and a string of bank accounts he held at the bank. But GTBank later counter-sued, saying it was Mr. Chukwuma who allegedly falsified bank and shipping documents to obtain tax waivers from the Nigerian government.

The bank subsequently referred the matter to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The anti-graft office filed criminal charges against Mr. Chukwuma at a Lagos court. Last month, he was declared wanted for failing to appear for arraignment in the matter, which is still proceeding separately from the N14 billion arbitrary charges lawsuit currently at appellate levels.

Mr. Chukwuma denied the allegations of doctoring shipping documents, saying the matter had previously been investigated by the EFCC and the police both of whom cleared him of any wrongdoing.

He accused GTBank of using law enforcement agencies to hound him and cripple his business, a claim the bank denied.