The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has waded into the dispute between the the Chairman of the Innoson Group, Mr. Innocent Chukwuma and Guaranty Trust Bank Plc (GTBank) after the arrest of the business man the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) degenerated into a crisis.
Chukwuma was arrested on Tuesday by operatives of the EFCC and the police at his residence in Enugu and flown to Lagos the next day over what was deemed a commercial dispute between his automobile manufacturing company and GTBank.
However, his arrest triggered an outcry and condemnation by the Senate and several groups in the South-east who wondered why the EFCC was getting involved in a dispute between a customer and his bank, and one which was already being adjudicated at the Supreme Court.
Twenty-four hours after Chukwuma’s arrest, however, the EFCC released him on bail but also gave an account into the circumstances leading to his apprehension.
It maintained that he was arrested because he had refused to honour its invitations in the past to respond to questions bordering on allegations of a N1.478 billion fraud and forgery charge.
The EFCC also accused the industrialist of among other infractions, allegedly using forged documents to secure tax waivers.
But after initially stating that he would not accept his release on bail until a reason had been given by the EFCC for his arrest, Chukuma arrived the Kanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu Thursday to a rousing welcome.
Irrespective of his release, Ekweremadu, Naija News learnt, has reached out to the parties in the commercial dispute to sheathe their swords so that an amicable resolution could be reached.
More importantly, the Deputy Senate President is concerned that what under normal circumstance is a commercial transaction, has assumed an ethno-political dimension which must be nipped in the bud, said a source close to Ekweremadu.
Ekweremadu, on Wednesday in the Senate, had questioned the rational for Chukwuma’s arrest by the EFCC over a commercial dispute that was already in court.
He argued that the anti-graft agency had over-reached itself and had no business stepping into a civil matter between a bank and its customer.
His position and that of other senators, who supported his motion, resulted in the Senate condemning the arrest of Chukwuma and the institution of a probe into the matter.
“The DSP (Deputy Senate President) has reached out to both sides to sheathe their sides, so that a resolution can be reached once and for all on this matter.
“It is important for him that the reputational damage to both sides be limited, so he is intervening in the matter.
“As you know, this dispute is protracted and is now assuming an ethnic dimension which should not be the case, as it is a commercial transaction.
“So, the DSP will try his best to bring both parties to the table to settle the dispute in a manner that is agreeable to all.
“It was for this reason he argued forcefully for Chief Chukwuma’s release on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday, because he knew that his arrest by the EFCC would cause more harm than good,” said the source.
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