Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Mallami, has disowned Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Ibrahim Magu, saying he is not privy to the arrest and detention of Managing Director of Innoson Motors, Innocent Chukwuma.
Although Mr Chukwuma has been released on bail, he fell out with the anti-graft agency over a misunderstanding he had with an indigenous bank in Nigeria.
The Innoson Boss, who was arrested at his residence in Enugu state recently, claimed that the bank (names withheld) owed him about N8.5 billion in a series of damages stemming from illegal service deductions by the bank.
He said the matter, which found its way to the law court, was decided in his favour but instead of the bank paying him his money, they decided to use the EFCC to intimidate him.
But the Attorney General of the Federation, Malami who allegedly revived the case at the Federal High Court in Abuja made a U-turn after the extended Federal Executive Council meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday.
The bank’s management had maintained that Chukwuma manipulated bank and shipping documents to obtain tax waivers from the Nigerian government.
EFCC on its part, had claimed the arrest of Innoson was necessitated by his refusal to honour an invitation extended to him, having earlier jumped an administrative bail granted to him in a case being investigated by the Capital Market and Insurance Fraud Unit of the Commission.
Malami said, “In all sincerity, I wasn’t privy to facts that led to the stated arrest. I have not been formally briefed by the relevant agencies but one thing I know about Innoson is that there has been a pending case between him and GT Bank which is pending in court and its been prosecuted accordingly. Other than that, I’m not privy to circumstances that led to his alleged arrest. So until I am briefed by the relevant agencies, I’m not in a clear position to make any disclosure relating to that.”
Beyond the Innoson and EFCC disagreement, Malami also disclosed that FEC gave approval for an executive bill on copyright infringement to be forwarded to the National Assembly for passage.
The second memo considered had to do with a bill on the maritime industry.
According to the Minister, it was meant to serve as suppression mechanism for piracy and maritime offences.
He explained that the intention is to accord protection to the maritime industry against piracy and indeed come up with a comprehensive policy position incorporated into the bill, which is intended to ensure that at the end of the day, the international convention that has been ratified by Nigeria overtime in relation to maritime industry is incorporated into the bill.
His words, “Two memos were presented to the Council this afternoon from the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and the first one relates to Copyright Bill, which is intended to be transmitted from the executive to the National Assembly.
“It is a bill that relates to the creative industry. It is meant to ensure the protection of creative works against piracy and protection of intellectual property rights.
“The bill was approved by the Council and the Attorney-General had been accordingly instructed to send the bill to the National Assembly for passage into law and eventual assent by the president if passed.
“The second memo that was presented from the Federal Ministry of Justice was a memo relating to the suppression of piracy and maritime offences. The intention is to accord protection to the maritime industry against piracy and indeed come up with a comprehensive policy position incorporated into the bill, which is intended to ensure that at the end of the day.
“The international convention that has been ratified by Nigeria overtime in relation to maritime industry is incorporated into the bill with a view to bringing it in line with international best practices and indeed ensure the protection of maritime boundary.
“The same bill as processed by the Office of the Attorney-General has been approved by the council and the Attorney-General has accordingly been instructed to send the bill to the National Assembly for passage and eventual assent by the president if passed by the National Assembly.”
Buhari’s cabinet also resolved to revisit the hydrocarbon remediation project recommended by the UNEP report for communities ravaged by oil pollution in the Niger Delta.