Innoson Motors insists Imo govt owing it N2.5 billion

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Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company has insisted that the Imo State Government is yet to pay N2.5 billion debt for the purchase of its vehicles and their parts. The company, last week, said it had sued the state government at a State High Court in Anambra State over its inability to pay the debt. It said the worth of the 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 per cent.

But the Commissioner for Information in Imo State, Declan Emelumba, would later fault the claim, saying the company was covering up some facts and attempting to blackmail the state government. He accused the company of intentionally refusing to admit that the 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,” Mr Emelumba had said.

Mr Emelumba, in a statement on Sunday, said about 70 per cent of the vehicles had broken down, alleging that the company breached an agreement to set up a maintenance shop for the vehicles. But in their reaction, the spokesperson of Innoson Motors, Cornel Osigwe, in a statement on Monday, accused the state government of attempting to “water down the facts and substance” of the allegation.

Mr Osigwe denied the state government’s claim that the contract was worth over N5 billion.

He said the current debt is being owed after the company supplied another set of vehicles in 2021, one year after the first transaction.

He said the latest supply was made with “an understanding that the state government will pay for the vehicles after deliveries to them”.

He said the government failed to pay the debt despite repeated appeals through some clerics and officials of the government.

“Approaching the courts to recover the debt was the last option for us since the governor has rebuffed all entreaties made to him to pay us,” he said.

The spokesperson said there was no agreement with the state government that they would set up a service centre in the state. He said the company has various vehicle servicing partners in the state where its vehicles are maintained and serviced. He also said the company also has a unique mobile workshop which provides maintenance and vehicle servicing to its clients.

“To the best of our knowledge, Innoson Vehicles has always maintained and serviced the vehicles supplied to the Imo State Government up to the stage the company decided to disengage its maintenance and servicing as a result of non-payment of servicing parts used which have risen to above N7 million,” he said.

“This particular debt among others is what Innoson Vehicles has detailed to recover from the law court.”

He also denied the state government’s claims that it had been servicing the debt, saying the government has not paid any money since the vehicles were delivered to them in April 2021.

“There are several receipts of letters and messages sent to the state government and the governor appealing to his conscience that the nonpayment of this debt or its servicing will lead to the shutdown of operations of Innoson Vehicles, not for once did we get any response of hope from the governor,” he said.

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