Federal Capital Territory High Court, Abuja, has ordered a temporary block of funds in four banks – First Bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA), Wema Bank and Zenith Bank operated by the Oyo State Government and its agencies pending when it can show cause on why the monies in there aren’t credited to some judgement creditors, Channels Television reported.
Justice Ebong issued the order while ruling on a motion ex-parte for garnishee order filed by the ex-chairpersons and councillors led by Misters Bashorun Majeed, Bosun Ajuwon and Idris Okusesi.
The funds, according to court filings, are to settle the outstanding balance of N3,374,889,425.60 from the judgment debt owed some former local government chairpersons and councillors sacked on 29 May 29 2019 before the end of their tenure by Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde.
Justice A. O. Ebong issued the order while ruling on a motion ex-parte for garnishee order nisi filed by the ex-chairmen and councillors led by Bashorun Majeed Ajuwon and Idris Okusesi.
The garnishee proceeding, initiated for the chairpersons and councillors by their lawyer, Musibau Adetunbi, is in the execution of a judgment they got against the governor and six others from the Supreme Court on 7 May 2021.
The ruling reads that A garnishee order is hereby granted to attach the judgment debtors’ accounts with garnishees Nos. 1 to 4 in the motion ex-parte, for the purpose of settling the judgment debt outstanding in the sum of N3,374,889,425.60 as awarded by the Supreme Court and conceded by the judgment debtors in Exhibit 11 attached to the applicant’s motion, according to the report.
“The garnishees (1st to 4th) shall file affidavits and attend court on the next adjourned date to show cause why the order nisi should not be made absolute.
It was gathered that the judgment creditors have since effected service of copies of the order on the judgment debtors as ordered by the court.
Listed as judgment debtors with the Oyo State Governor is the state’s Attorney General, the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, the Accountant General, the House of Assembly, it’s Speaker and the Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission (OYSIEC).
The ex-chairpersons and councillors were elected in the election conducted by OYSIEC on 12 March 2018 for a three-year term.
While learning that Mr Makinde, who took office on 29 May 2019 had planned to sack them, they sued before the High Court of Oyo State to challenge the constitutionality of Sections 11 and 12 of the Oyo State Local Government Law 2001, which empowered the governor and the House of Assembly to dissolve LG executives in the state.
In its judgment on 6 May 2019, the Oyo State High Court declared Sections 11 and 12 of the state’s Local Government Law 2001 as unconstitutional, on the grounds that it violated Section 7(1) of the Constitution.
Nevertheless, Makinde sacked the chairpersons and councillors on 29 May 2019 and subsequently appealed the judgment.
On 15 July 2020 the Court of Appeal set aside the judgment of the High Court, a decision the affected officials appealed at the Supreme Court.
On May 7, 2021, the appeal was upheld by a five-member panel of the Supreme Court presided over by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, while the decision of the Court of Appeal was set aside.
The court, which awarded a cost of N20 million against Mr Makinde, ordered that the ex-chairmen and councilors, who were unlawfully sacked by the governor, be paid their salaries and allowances from May 29, 2019 to May 11, 2021 when their tenure ought to have expired.
Ifunanya Ikueze is an Engineer, Safety Professional, Writer, Investor, Entrepreneur and Educator.