By Andrew Rapulu Udeh
The import of recent Supreme Court ruling on INNOSON Motors/ Guaranty Trust bank case meant that the earlier order by Enugu Court of Appeal should be obeyed and executed. The GT Bank’s motion for stay of execution which was taken to Supreme Court has failed to receive an approval before the five man panel of justice headed by Justice Bode Rhodes – Vivour. The Apex court judgment meant that GT bank has two weeks to pay over N14 billion to on interest yielding account of Deputy Chief Registrar of the Enugu Court of Appeal for onward payment to whoever wins the case between the bank and Innoson. Within the same period GT Bank had issued a statement to its customers and the general public. “The Bank’s customers and general public are hereby urged to disregard these false statements as nothing could be further from the truth. There was no directive or order issued by the Supreme Court of Nigeria to the Bank to make any payment to any of its debtor customers”
Certainly there is contradiction here. A party to the dispute is not telling the truth. GT Bank is not denying whether there was judgment from the Supreme Court or not, rather they are contesting the message contained in the ruling but the Bank is at liberty to publish the correct version of the Supreme Court Judgment for public reading and assimilation.
Innoson vs GTB case is now more than a decade. There have been series of legal battles at various courts in the land, of which virtually all the court rulings have been in favour of Innoson. The matter has even attracted the attention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Nigerian Police.
On Tuesday 18th December, 2017, EFCC officials, had stormed the Enugu Residence of Chief Innocent Chukwuma and took him to Abuja. His arrest attracted national and international condemnation of which the National Assembly members had queried the EFCC for such unholy act.
The case between Innoson and GTB is thought provoking and calls for caution. The company has become an international brand which cannot be allowed to go into eclipse. It has a large employment portfolio cut across different professionals. Innoson is a dominant, committed and dynamic player in the plastic and automotive industries, with trained indigenous workforce. The company has amazing profile, with more than five different subsidiaries producing Motorcycles, Tricycles, Vehicles and Plastic utilities. It has also contributed immensely to the growth of Nigerian economy by providing huge employment opportunities to the teeming youths. It has industrial locations at Nnewi, Enugu, Lagos and Abuja.
It is also a well-known fact that Innoson which is dedicated to the industrial growth of Nigerian, has equally keyed into the Nigerian government’s agenda to develop vital sectors of the economy in its transformation agenda of uplifting Nigeria to an industrialized nation by 2020. Of course. The impact of its economic development in Nigeria would be fully felt when the Federal Government puts in place all the necessary economic policies that will give indigenous companies the real protection, patronage and provisions needed for growth.
Innoson’s developmental pace is on increase as innovation keep manifesting, courtesy of the highly skilled auto engineers, producing intra and inter-city buses of various sitting capacities, Trucks, Pick-up vans, Tricycles, Purpose-built utility vehicles and Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) Indeed, the company’s product quality has won so many national and international laurels such as Entrepreneurship award for indigenous excellence in automobile manufacturing by the Nigeria Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), National Productivity Order of merit (NPON) Special merit award by the Manufacturers Associations of Nigeria (MAN)Meritorious award by the Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE) Best SME by the African Business Award Common Wealth Business Council London, among others.
The Federal Government and the Nigerians in general should not close their eyes and allow Innoson’s legal dispute with GTB to continue. The matter has reached a crescendo for the major stakeholders in Nigeria to intervene and resolve amicably. There is no issue beyond human resolution throwing the matter as different cost is tantamount to prolonging the litigation. An out of court settlement is best option for both parties. We should think back and remember that there are so many industries in Nigeria which had gone moribund due to related cases.
Today, in the South East, we have lost reputable industries like the Anambra State Vegetable Oil Production (AVOP) Nachi, Anambra Motor Company Limited (ANAMCO) Tempo Mill Industries Umunya, Chuckies Biscuit Industry, Awkuzu, Isaho Industries Nnewi, Road Master Tyres and Tubes Industries Onitsha, Ferdinand Oil Production Company Urualla, Munich Industries Nnewi, John White Power Rope Industries Nnewi and so many others. Their absence and the multiplying effect is not healthy for the economic growth of Nigeria.
Udeh, a Journalist, writes from Enugu, Enugu state