Court blocks Oyo State Government accounts in four banks due to N3.4 billion debt
A Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in Abuja has issued an order attaching funds held in four banks to the credit of the Oyo State Government and its agencies.
The decision was made by Justice A. O. Ebong in response to a motion ex-parte for garnishee order nisi brought by the former council members and chairmen under the leadership of Bashorun Majeed, Bosun Ajuwon, and Idris Okusesi.
The affected banks, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), are First Bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA), Wema Bank, and Zenith Bank.
In order to prevent the order nisi from becoming absolute, Justice Ebong ordered the banks to provide justification.
A certified true copy (CTC) of the judge’s decision on the motion, with the filing number FCT/HC/BW/M/238/2023, was sighted on Sunday in Abuja.
According to court documents, the money will be used to pay off the remaining balance of N3,374,889,425.60 from a judgment debt owed by a few former local government chairmen and councillors who were fired by Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde on May 29 before the end of their terms.
The garnishee action was started on behalf of the chairmen and councillors by their attorney, Musibau Adetunbi, SAN, and is being carried out in accordance with a ruling they obtained on May 7, 2021, against the governor and six other people.
In accordance with the Supreme Court’s award and the judgment debtors’ admission in Exhibit 11 attached to the applicant’s motion, a garnishee order nisi is hereby granted to attach the judgment debtors’ accounts with garnishees Nos. 1 to 4 in the motion ex-parte.
The first through fourth garnishees must submit affidavits and appear in court on the following postponed date to demonstrate why the order nisi should not be made absolute.
The judgment debtors must receive notice of this order nisi in accordance with the law. The 4/4/2023 has been set aside for the continuation of this matter.
According to information obtained, the judgment creditors have since served copies of the order on the judgment debtors in accordance with the court’s directive.
The state’s Attorney General, Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Accountant General, Speaker of the House of Assembly, and Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission are all listed as judgment debtors with the Oyo State Governor (OYSIEC).
The OYSIEC-conducted election on March 12, 2018, resulted in the election of the ex-Chairmen and Councillors for a three-year term.
The Chairmen and Councillors filed a lawsuit in Oyo State’s High Court to challenge the constitutionality of Sections 11 and 12 of the Oyo State Local Government Law 2001, which gave the governor and the House of Assembly the authority to fire LG executives in the state, after learning that Makinde, who took office on May 29, 2019, intended to do so.
The Oyo State High Court ruled on May 6, 2019, that Sections 11 and 12 of the state’s Local Government Law 2001 were unconstitutional because they violated Section 7(1) of the Constitution.
Even though the ruling was still in effect, Makinde dismissed the Chairmen and Councillors on May 29, 2019, and then appealed the ruling.
The affected Chairmen and Councillors appealed the Court of Appeal’s ruling at the Supreme Court on July 15, 2020, which ordered the Court of Appeal to set aside the High Court’s decision.
A five-member panel of the Supreme Court, led by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, rendered its decision on May 7, 2021, allowing the appeal with the file number SC/CV/556/2020 and overturning the Court of Appeal’s ruling.
The ex-chairmen and councillors who were wrongfully fired by the governor must be paid their salaries and allowances from May 29, 2019 to May 11, 2021, when their tenure should have ended, according to the supreme court, which fined Makinde N20 million in costs.
Makinde was harshly criticized by the Supreme Court for acting arbitrarily and in an undemocratic manner, according to the lead judgment by Justice Ejembi Eko.
“I will not end this appeal without commenting on the disturbing ugly face of impunity displayed by the Governor of Oyo State (the first respondent here) on May 29, 2019, tantamount to executive lawlessness, which was categorically and vehemently denounced by this court in the case of the Military Governor of Lagos State v. Ojukwu,” Justice Eko said.
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He pointed out that Makinde “issued imperial directives dissolving all democratically elected local Government Councils in Oyo State in spite of the subsisting judgment of Oyo State High Court in the suit No. 1/347/2017” on May 29, 2019, even before appealing the High Court ruling.
“The judgment creditors, the current appellants, filed a number of applications to stop, in particular the first respondent (the Governor), from starting the self-help intended to contemptuously frustrate the High Court’s judgment.
“He refused to be deterred. In his imperial omnipotence, he continued to disregard the High Court’s ongoing judgment with unrestrained, if infuriating, contempt.
“It is inconceivable that a governor who was duly elected would act in such unwholesome, anti-democratic ways. These trends undoubtedly put democracy and the rule of law in danger.
“The democratically elected Governors in this country have established themselves as a species most dangerous to democracy, and this is almost becoming a universal phenomenon.
Justice Eko stated, “They contemptuously disregard and interfere with democratically elected Local Government Councils and appoint their lackeys as caretaker committee’s to manage Local Government affairs.