By Naomi Sharang
The Senate has mandated its Committee on Anti–Corruption and Financial Crimes to investigate the circumstances surrounding the arrest of Innoson Motors’ boss, Mr Innocent Chukwuma, and report back on Thursday.
The upper chamber also mandated the committee to investigate claims that an EFCC operative slapped Chukwuma’s wife, during the raid of his house in Enugu.
It called for the immediate and unconditional release of the businessman.
Chukwuma was reportedly arrested at his Enugu home on Tuesday by operatives of EFCC over alleged refusal to repay a loan to Guaranty Trust Bank.
Coming under the Senate Standing Rules, Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, said the arrest of the businessman was a national disgrace and an abuse of his fundamental human rights.
He urged Senators to prevail on the EFCC, to immediately release the man and also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to call Magu to order in the discharge of his duties.
According to him, the EFCC erred to have to intervene in a civil matter involving a commercial bank and a private citizen.
“The detention of Innocent Chukwuma, owner of Innoson Motors, is the issue. It is purely a civil matter. At the inception of this Senate, we took an oath to defend the constitution.
“A policeman arrested him. He asked what his offence was. He was told he would be told when they got to the station.
“The constitution is clear that no person should be detained more than 24 hours without telling him his offence. As I speak, he is yet to be told of his offence.
“What I gathered is that he was arrested by the EFCC over a certain money he is owing the GTBank.
“Instead of them to settle it, EFCC got involved and arrested him like a common criminal. He was bundled like a criminal.
“If we allow the EFCC to get involved in things like this, we will be setting a bad precedence. This is a man who has created over 50,000 jobs in a country where there are no jobs.”
In his contribution, Sen. Eyinnaya Abaribe (PDP-Abia) said if the Senate failed to act, members might soon become victims.
“If we are not careful and deal with this issue, we will all fall victim of this issue.
“It was a principal officer that was invited here. That matter will be brought here later. We do not know what motivates the EFCC.
“EFCC, in its own Twitter handle, said it arrested Innoson boss because he did not honour their invitation.
“The man said he was not invited. Who is lying? EFCC will lie and put you on your head because they have the means.”
On his part, Sen. Barnabas Gemade (APC-Benue) said the arrest of Chukwuma was an abuse and misuse of power.
He said it is wrong for the EFCC to arrest a reputable entrepreneur and warned that it could send wrong signals to his foreign partners.
President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, said the action of EFCC did not speak well of the country.
He said in the United States of America, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) does not get involved in trivial issues like this.
“Truly, those who have contributed have raised important issues. As a society, this does not speak well for the country.
“How a private transaction has become the business of the EFCC is what I do not know.
“I have not seen the FBI intervene between people involved in a transaction. We are just making a mockery of the institution.”