Promasidor Company Urges Court To Stop Police Investigation Of Alleged Economic Sabotage.

In a bid to forestall police investigation of alleged non-compliance with manufacturing /safety standard, taxes,custom/excise duties,forex and pension remittances,as well as NHF,ITF,NSTIF contributions, a consumer producing company, PROMASIDOR NIGERIA LIMITED who is the producer of beverages product of  Cowbell Milk,Loyal Milk,Onga spicy,Top tea and many other product has slammed 25 Million Naira suit on Inspector General of  Nigerian Police.
Joined as defendants in the ensuing legal hostility pending before a Lagos high court are,
Assistant Inspector General of Police,Force Criminal investigation Department,Annex,Alagbon Close Ikoyi Lagos.
0pp is  Commissioner of Police (Anti-Fraud Section),Force Criminal investigation Department Annex, Alagbon Close Ikoyi Lagos
Commissioner of Police (Admin section), Force Criminal investigation Department Annex Alagbon Close Ikoyi Lagos
Commissioner of Police (Force Intelligence Bureau) Force Headquarters Annex,Obalende- Lagos
Apart from urging the court to restrain the Inspector General of Police and other Police officers under his command from further unilateral investigation, interrogation,harassment, intimidation,or coercion of the company,the company is also demanding for the sum of N15 million as  general damages as well as N10million for the cost of instituting this legal action against the Defendants jointly and severally,for the inconveniences,and hardship  caused to the company through their incessant interrogation, investigation and intimidation over alleged non-compliance/standard issues.
In a 36 paragraphs of affidavit sworn to by the Company Secretary/Legal Adviser of Promasidor company, Adekunle Adaramola, and filed before the court,the deponent averred that between, October 2022,and 10th of January,2023 the company received various invitation letters from the offices of the defendants addressed to the Managing  Director from one O.Y.Oladimeji attached to the office of Commissioner of Police Anti Fraud Section Force Criminal Investigation Department Alagbon Ikoyi Lagos.
However,owing to the non-availability of the MD/CEO who was out of Nigeria pending the conclusion of the general elections, and the swearing of a new government Mr.Adekunle Adaramola in his capacity as the Company Secretary/legal Adviser honour the said invitation accompanied by Mr.Marvis Oduogu of the law firm of Stern and Blan Partners,the company’s solicitors armed with Plaintiff’s Proof of Compliance with Tax, Regulatory, and Standard Requirements in response to the Petition leading to the Invitation
It was on arrival at the offices of the  Defendants in respect of the invitation, that he was shown a copy of a Petition dated 30th November 2022 filed by one Non-Governmental Organisation known as the Committee for the Defence of Workers’ Rights (Know Your Rights Initiative)  against selected manufacturing companies which include Simba Nigeria Ltd, Pinnacle Oil, KGM Ventures and other companies,the name of their company was not there.
On   perusal of the said Petition  the Petitioner alleged inter alia tax evasion of the Company Income Tax (CIT), Education Tax, Capital Gains Tax,PAYE, Withholding Tax (WHT) and non-compliance with statutory regulations and mandatory annual returns for pension, Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), National Housing Fund (NHF), Industrial Training Fund (ITF) contributions,including safety standards like Manufacturing Certification (MANCAP),standard Organization of Nigeria (SON), and National Agency for food and drug administration and control(NAFDAC)
As a law-abiding citizen,  on behalf of the company, he volunteered a Statement dated 16th January 2023 to the effect that the Plaintiff company since incorporation in Nigeria has operated within the confines of the law and any regulation in force in the Federal Republic of Nigeria as well as in every other country where its business is operative.
In proof of the Plaintiff’s compliance with the following regulations that oversee the above stated mandatory remittances and standards, on behalf of the company undertook and indeed provided the copies of all the documents
In a  Petition filed by one Samuel Adewale Ogunkunle through his Solicitors Isaac Adiatu’s Newlife Chambers alleges fraud,stealing and economic sabotage against Promasidor Nigeria limited company, From the contents of the Petition, the company was alleged to have ‘stolen’ forex from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and evaded the Value Added Tax (VAT) and customs/excise duties in the course of importing capital needed for production.Afterwards perusing the Petition, he volunteered statement to the effect that the company’s officer in charge of shipping, customs/Excise and importation would visit on the next date to provide additional documents in proof of the company compliance with all forex requirements with the CBN,payment of /exemption from VAT and Custom/Excise duties amongst others.
Further to the above, he alongside the Plaintiff’s Officer in-charge of shipping custom/excise and importations and solicitors Mr Elvis Ogege visited the  Defendant’s office not less than 3 subsequent Occasions
During these visits, himself and Mr. Ogege volunteered statements and produced all the documents  and VAT Modification order 2021 which clearly exonerated the company from all  the trumped-up allegations of fraud, stealing and economic sabotage contained in the Petition,they explained in thier  statements that the Plaintiff, enjoyed VAT exemptions for Its imported products covered under the VAT Modification Order 2021 and after a Formal Approval to enjoy the exemptions was issued to the company by the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Ministry of Finance. Documents showing this Formal Approval and evidence of the Plaintiff’s remittance of VAT prior to the exemption were submitted to the Defendant’s officers.
To even curtail the incessant harassment, the company through its Solicitors filed a petition to the office of IGP against the acts of  these Petitioners/complainants for false information, criminal defamation and other acts.However Inspector General of Police never took any concrete steps to stop these incessant invitations and harassment of the company and its employees by his men ,officers,units and departments.
He confirmed that up till the time of filing this Suit, the Inspector General of Police rather than investigate the Plaintiff’s Petition has through its units, departments and/or officers across Nigeria intensified the harassment and interrogation of the Plaintiff and its employees over compliance, safety and tax issues that the Plaintiff has already remitted to the relevant statutory bodies/agencies.
Based on his training as a legal practitioner the acts of the Defendants are tailored towards usurping the powers, functions and statutory responsibility of the statutory bodies/agencies vested with such powers, and the Defendants only want to use the Plaintiff’s staff to fish or search for proof of alleged non-compliance.
Consequently,the company,while urging the court to restrain the Inspector General of Police and his officers under him to desist from further investigation is demanding for N15 million as general damages as well as N10 million as the cost of instituting this legal action.
However,in a counter affidavit sworn to by an Assistance Superintendent of Police  Gbeleyi Olusegun attached to Federal Criminal Investigation Department, Alagbon close,Ikoyi Lagos,stated that the company’s affidavit are not correct, as they contained half-truth and misrepresentation of What  happened and the position of law on this issue and same are denied.
What actually happened was that on 03/11/33, a petition bothering on Financial Crime, Fraud,Stealing and  Economic Sabotage was received by the office of Deputy Inspector General of Police Force Criminal Investigation Department,Garik Abuja,from the law firm of Isaac Adiatu’s Newlife  Chambers,on behalf of one Mr. Samuel Adewale Ogunkule,which was endorsed to the office of the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Force CID Annex,Alagbon close, Ikoyi-Lagos and his team was detailed to  investigation same.
In accordance with thier  statutory duties of investigation of crime and prevention of same,they conducted preliminary investigation into the petition by inviting the petitioner to come and throw more light on the petition and he came and made statement and submitted some documents in support of the allegation as contained in his petition and his statement.
In his statement, the petitioner alleged that the Applicant who are producers of Cowbell milk powder, a finished product that ordinarily attracts 5% Duty,5%Levy and 7.5 VAT has been defrauding the Federal Government of Nigeria by fraudulently claiming that their products are unfinished product and have been paying only 5% duty on their product, while diverting the monetary value of the 5% Levy and 7.5 VAT running into millions of naira to themselves, with active connivance of custom officers.
That preliminary investigation on the above allegations suggest that for the plaintiff to successfully escape paying the required levies and duties,the Company might have made false information to the Custom officers on the description of the goods they are bringing into the country and might have submitted forged documents for assessment.
Since  the  allegation of the petitioner includes custom officers,they decided to hear from the company first before contacting the Nigerian Customs which led to thier letters to the officers of the Company as exhibited in their Affidavit which they honoured and no one was arrested or detained as alleged.
Contrary to some paragraphs of the company’s affidavit which are not correct,
 the plaintiff’s officers were only invited in respect of the ongoing investigation of the petition submitted by the petitioner.
On arrival of the officers of the company to thier office in honour of the invitation sent to them, they were shown the petition written against their company and they responded to it and also submitted documents in their defence.
That on carrying out further investigation on the defence made by the officers of the company and the documents they submitted, they were further invited for clarifications on the discovery they made in the course of thier preliminary investigation to which they honoured and responded to thier  inquiries without being arrested, humiliated or detained.
They were simply carrying out thier statutory duties of investigation of crimes in accordance with Section 4 of the Police Act, 2020 which empowers Police to investigate and enforce all Laws and Regulations in Nigeria.
ASP Gbeleyi contented that as a Police Officer  and with what Onyeka Ekweozor Esq,Counsel handling this suit informed  him he knows  as a fact that they have the statutory powers to investigate and enforce all Laws and Regulations in Nigeria with or without collaboration of any other Agency in Nigeria.
Consequently, the present investigation does not amount to usurpation of powers of any Agency in Nigeria,as they have the statutory duties to investigate any offence in Nigeria irrespective of where the offence is committed.
They did not harass nor intimidate the officers of the company in the cause of ongoing investigation, as alleged by the company.The fact that the plaintiff allegedly denied the offence in the petition cannot operate as a stay to investigation.
Therefore,the application of Promasidor company is not only frivolous, but lacks merit  and should to be dismissed with substantial cost against the company.

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