By Mike Ubani
Controversy now trails alleged sale of plots of land in the premises of the Enugu-based Anambra Motor Manufacturing Company (ANAMMCO) by its management.
The management is alleged to be selling some of the companya��s assets to offset its indebtedness to workers and creditors.
The AUTHORITY gathered that the ANAMMCO recently sold about 100 plots of its land located inside the companya��s sprawling premises to a Pentecostal church for N1 billion.
Several individuals and companies, including a popular transport company, were said to have showed interest on the land, but the owners of ANAMMCO reportedly settled for the fast-growing Pentecostal church on the basis that it has enough money to pay and develop the property.
The church held its national Easter retreat which began on March 29 and ended on April 2 on the newly acquired property, which has been designated as its conference centre
A top management staff of ANAMMCO who was approached for comments, turned down the request, describing the issue as a�?sensitive.a�?
One of the leaders of the church, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to do so, confirmed that the church bought the land for N1billion.
But the Chairman of GUO Motors Company Limited (owners of 67% shares of ANAMMCO), Chief G. U. Okeke, denied that the church had bought the land.
He told The AUTHORITY that ANAMMCO only leased the land which houses the companya��s warehouse for spare parts to the church to hold its 2018 Easter retreat.
Okeke also denied the claim that the church bought the land for N1billion.
He said: a�?Except somebody in ANAMMCO is deceiving me, otherwise no part of the companya��s land was sold to the church. You know this religious people came and said that they wanted us to lease that place to them for their Easter programme.
a�?And it is unchristian for anybody to say No, since they are going to use the place to evangelise Christ, and may be pray for the company.
a�?So, we asked them to use the place on the basis of lease until further notice. Except somebody has hijacked the money, the church has not even deposited one naira for the small amount of money we asked them to pay for the land.
a�?We did not negotiate with the church to pay N1 billion. If we had negotiated, then they would have paid the money into ANAMMCO bank account, except some ANAMMCO members of staff are deceiving me.
a�?We have not agreed on the period of the lease. But if at the end of this second quarter, the church did not come up with a realistic position, wea��ll ask them to back off.a�?
ANAMMCO was established in 1977 by the then military government of Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, to assemble Mercedez Benz buses and trucks locally, with a view to reducing the high level of importation of vehicles into the country.
In 1979, the Obasanjo administration signed a business contract with a foreign motor manufacturing company a�� Daimler Chrysler AG of Germany, manufacturers of Mercedez Benz automobiles, as technical partners.
ANAMMCO reportedly suffered financial losses running into billions of naira due to alleged sharp practices by its two successive German chief executives, and some of their Nigerian cronies, a development which led the Federal Government to privatise the company in 2010.
The privatisation exercise has so far not changed the financial status rather the company is now moribund, with over 95 per cent of its workforce laid off, without their terminal benefits.
A competent source close to the company said that the alleged sale of the land was necessitated by the need to raise money to pay the ex-workers and some creditors.
But Okeke maintained that no portion of ANAMMCO land has been sold.
By Mike Ubani