…“You’re covering some facts” – Imo govt
Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company (IVM) says it has filed a lawsuit against Imo State Government at a State High Court in Anambra State over an unpaid debt
The company said the lawsuit followed the failure of the state government to pay or service a debt of over N2.5 billion for the purchase of vehicles and their parts.
Innoson’s head of corporate communications, Cornel Osigwe, who disclosed this in a statement on Friday, said the state government refused to pay the debt despite the company’s “repeated demands and appeals.”
He said the Chairman of Innoson, Innocent Chukwuma, has repeatedly asked the Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma, to pay the debt, but that the governor has refused.
The vehicles were supplied in good faith to the state government based on the understanding with the governor that payments would be made after deliveries, the company’s spokesperson said.
Mr Osigwe said the worth of the N2.5 billion debt with a dollar value of $3.8 million, has now risen to about $6.3 million, pointing out that the value of the money depreciated by over 40 percent.
He said it is based on that premise that the company is seeking to recover the debt with an interest rate of 10 percent.
The release reads in parts;
“Nigeria’s indigenous vehicle manufacturing company, Innoson Vehicles Manufacturing (IVM) has filed an over N2.5B lawsuit against the Imo State Government under the headship of Senator Hope Uzodinma over its failure to pay or service the debt of N2,547,666,435.00 (Two Billion, Five Hundred and Forty-Seven Million, Six Hundred and Sixty-Six Thousand, Four Hundred and Thirty-Five Naira) being the purchase price of the various IVM Vehicles including their parts which IVM manufactured, sold and delivered to the State Government but Imo State Governor or its government has refused and failed to pay same despite repeated demands and appeals.
“The lawsuit which was filed by Prof Joseph N Mbadugha, SAN, FCPA of McCarthy Mbadugha & Co, the counsel to Innoson Vehicles coming against repeated attempts made by the Chairman of Innoson Vehicles Manufacturing, Chief Dr. Innocent Chukwuma OFR, to the Governor urging him to pay the company on the vehicles sold, and delivered to the State Government.
“For the avoidance of doubt, sometimes in April 2021, His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma invited the Chairman/CEO of Innoson Vehicles, Chief Dr. Innocent Chukwuma to the Imo State Government House, Owerri where they discussed and agreed that Innoson Vehicles would sell and supply various specifications of its brand of Vehicles to the State Government which includes, inter alia;
1. 70 units of Innoson 5 Seater double cabin pick-up (IVM Carrier) 4WD
2. 10 units of Innoson 5- Seater double cabin military pick up (IVM G12)
3. 10 units of Innoson 5 seater single cabin military pick-up (IVM G12)
4. 100 units of a complete siren with public addressing system, revolving light, and street police light;
5. 2 Units of IVM Ambulance Vehicles
6. 20 Units of IVM G12 MS11
7. 20 sets of B. Canopy
“The above vehicles which were valued at over N2.5B ($6.3M) were supplied in good faith to the Imo State Government based on an understanding with the Governor which arose after a special request that Innoson Vehicles grant the State the favor of paying for the vehicles after deliveries to them and which request was granted and honored.
“The special and privilege request granted to the Governor turned into a nightmare for Innoson Vehicles and Its Chairman after Chief Chukwuma had at various times through several visits, phone calls, messages, and submission of letters requesting payment appealed to the Governor and his conscience to make total payments or set up a payment plan that will offset the debt.
“The inability of the State Government to pay the aforesaid purchase price of the vehicles supplied has resulted in Innoson Vehicles having difficulties in fulfilling its loan repayment obligations to Keystone Bank Limited and Bank of Industry. These Banks granted their credit facilities at the rate of 10% interest and other fees therein. More so, it has led to the loss of profit arising therefrom and the accruing interest.
“It is also interesting to note that as of July 27th, 2022, the over N2.5B worth of vehicles supplied to Imo State Government in April 2021 under the leadership of Hope Uzodinma with a dollar value of $6.3M is now worth $3.8M. Even if the money is paid today, the value of the money has depreciated by over 40%.
“It is therefore based on this premise that Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company Ltd has begun the process of recovering its debts against the Imo State Government by slamming a lawsuit of over N2.5B with an interest rate of 10% on the entirety of the sum claimed at the High Court of Anambra State, Nnewi Division.
Reacting, the Commissioner for Information in Imo State, Declan Emelumba, said the Innoson Company was covering some facts in the allegation.
He accused the company of intentionally refusing to admit that the state government had made some payments and that the amount being claimed by the company was just a balance of the total cost of the vehicles purchased by the government.
“The truth is that the total value of the contract we had with them came to over N5 billion out of which we have paid N3.5 billion. So, they are talking about the balance,” Emelumba stated.
The Information commissioner argued that the state government has shown faith in the contract by making a part payment to the Innoson group, insisting that the impression being created by the company against the government was “wrong and incorrect.”
“And secondly, they also failed to admit that, as part of that agreement, they were to set up a maintenance shop for the vehicles, because part of the agreement was that they would be maintaining the vehicles,” he said.
“They didn’t set up that shop, but that has not stopped us from redeeming the debt.”