Senate President Bukola Saraki has expressed displeasure over the arrest of Innocent Chukwuma, chief executive officer (CEO) of Innoson Motors.
On Tuesday, operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arrested Chukwuma at his Enugu residence.
The commission said it picked him up after he failed to honour its invitation.
Although, the anti-graft agency did not state the particular reason for arresting Chukwuma, there are reports that it is as a result of a dispute between the businessman and Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB)
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Speaking on Wednesday after, Ike Ekeweremadu, deputy senate president, drew the attention of the senators to the matter, the senate president said it is the role of lawmakers to protect the fundamental rights of citizens.
“As a society that we are all planning that our country to be civilised, I think this does not speak well of the country. How a private commercial transaction has now become the focus of the EFCC. I think this area is the focus,” Saraki said.
“Whether he is owing or not, I think we must be seen protecting the fundamental rights. I have never seen where FBI interferes between City Bank and Ford Motors, or the financial crime agency in UK intervenes. We are just making a mockery of ourselves and we really should be able to do the right thing.”
Earlier, Ekeweremadu wondered why the Innoson CEO would be treated like a “common criminal” over a transaction between him and his bank.
“Any person who is arrested and detained should be informed reason for his arrest. As I speak Mr Innoson Chukwuma is yet to be informed of what led to his arrest or detention but if you go through the media today, the story is that he is owing GTB,” he said.
“As a lawyer I’m at a loss as to how a transaction between someone and his bank will inform the EFCC. Mr Innocent Chukwuma is one of the greatest industrialists we have in this country today.
“He employed over 50,000 people, we are talking about unemployment and these are people that are helping address unemployment issues in Nigeria and he was bundled like a common criminal over a transaction between him and his bank. The story he told me is that he is not owing the bank anything. He borrowed money from the bank which he has since repaid but the bank kept charging money and withdrawing it from his account.
“They set up an audit and the auditor came to a conclusion that they had deducted more than N500 million, he was insisting on 22 percent, the bank said they will pay 17 percent so that is where they had the disagreement and they went to court but judgement was delivered in his favour at the federal high court and the court of appeal and the matter is currently at the supreme court.
“The fact that the matter is in court and it was a commercial transaction gives no room for the intervention of EFCC. I will like to appeal to this senate to ensure that Mr Innocent Chukwuma is released promptly.”