Business Hilights
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Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing deserves FG’s protection, support to stand, grow

Throughout sub-Saharan Africa, Innoson Vehicles Manufacturing (IVM) Group, Nnewi in Anambra State remains the only indigenous vehicle production company which has been growing amidst series of challenges including legal, importation and even market share supports.

Since the company took off some years ago, the company has been having issues from one problem to the other.

In the last 12 months, IVM has been having legal issues both in Lagos and Enugu states on issues that can be resolved behind closed doors, but there seems to be no plan to save the company or protect it from legal distractions surrounding its planned growth plan so as to deepen its drive to capture a bigger market share both in Nigeria and the whole of the continent.

There had been several visitations by federal government officials including the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

Whereas observers cannot really picture what advantage all federal officials trips to the production plant in Nnewi have given to the company, government has been very silent on issues capable of collapsing the first private sector driven vehicle plant in Nigeria.

Innoson Osinbajo visit
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo during his tour of IVM earlier in the year

Some Nigerians who barred their minds on the recent Supreme Court judgment mandating the company to pay a certain amount to a bank, said time has come for the federal government to get involved in the matter before the company is forced to go down.

Business Hilights recalls that Thursday last week, the Supreme Court struck out GTBank’s motion for stay of execution of the Enugu Court of Appeal Division’s order that GTBank pays over N6 Billion into an interest yielding account at the Court of Appeal. Innoson’s legal team which was led by Prof McCarthy Mbadugha ESQ told the Supreme Court that the Judgment debt which arose from excess and unlawful charges which GTB took from Innoson’s account now stood at over N14billion.

It was further gathered that the Supreme Court decision follows GTBanks motion for stay of execution at the Supreme Court when the Court of Appeal Enugu Division ruled on 9th Dec, 2014 that the appellant (GTB) is hereby ordered to pay the sum of Five Billion, Nine Hundred and thirty Six Million, One Hundred and Twenty Six Thousand, Two Hundred and Nineteen Naira, One Kobo (N5,936,126,219.01k) to the Deputy Chief Register of the Court within 14 days from the date of ruling and which the Deputy Chief Register shall pay same into an interest yielding account in a reputable bank other than Diamond Bank or Mainstreet Bank Plc pending the determination of this appeal. The money together with whatever accrues thereon shall be paid to the party who wins the appeal.

GTBank not satisfied with the decision of the ruling of Court of Appeal, filed a motion for stay of execution at the Supreme Court, however Supreme Court today struck out GTB motion for stay of execution and maintained that it will not hear GTBank’s motion for stay of execution until it obeys the ruling of Court of Appeal to pay the said money into an interest yielding account.

By Supreme Court decision today, GTB is expected within 14 days to pay the sum of over N14Billion judgment debt to the Deputy Chief Registrar of the Court of Appeal Enugu Division and which will now be paid into an interest yielding account in a reputable bank. The money together with whatever interest accrues thereon shall be paid to the party who wins the appeal.

Industry analysts say considering the state of the manufacturing sector, any company that is forced to vomit such large fund, may go down within a short period of time.

Some months ago, a Malian regional leader visited the plant in Nnewi and placed orders for the purchase of a whooping 400 units of cars which was a very strong international reputation that is worth celebrating and upholding by the government and people of Nigeria.

IVM had been donating several models of its products to security agencies and recently produced world class Armored Personnel Carriers (APC) which was donated to the Nigerian Armed Forces.

The company has also given operational Hilux vans to several trade unions and government agencies.

Innoson Abubakar visit
Former head of Stste, Abdulsalami Abubakar also visited IVM this year

Besides, IVM has all manner of vehicle products including Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) which some states governments had been using as their official cars. Some Nigerians who welcomed the recent donation of 150 cars by a philanthropist to the Nigeria Police while thanking the donor, argued that at least some of the vehicles would have been bought from IVM as a way of growing indigenization policy that encouraging massive capital fights in the name of Corporate Social Responsibilities.

Wednesday last week in Abuja, the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, who briefed the State House Correspondents on the outcome of the FEC meeting alongside the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, as well as the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, revealed that about N1.6billion was also approved for the procurement of 68 new Ford pickup operational vehicles for Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).

One of the best ways to support indigenous companies like IVM is to place such orders for the delivery of the vehicles so that the company can grow and in the process stop capital flights on goods that have a strong local alternative.

The purchase of the vehicles for Customs now stands as a strong case for government in demonstrating its support to local content laws it signed to become regulation in procurement.

innoson motor tour
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company Limited, Chief Innocent Chukwuma (right), conducting the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed (middle), on a facility tour of the company in Nnewi, Anambra State recently.

Otherwise, before the approved N1.6bn will be flown abroad, government must confirm from IVM if it has no such vehicles needed by the Nigerian Customs.Observers say IVM, according to the strong industrial identity it has earned Nigeria in the last one year and its resilience in struggling for survival in a foreign dominated car market, the company need to given the status of ‘Too Big To Fall’ and as such should be protected not minding the ethnic origin of the core investor.