Four accounts belonging to the Oyo State government have been blocked over a debt issue of about N3.4 billion, Naija News has learnt.
It was gathered that a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja in its March 2 judgement, issued an order attaching funds standing to the credit of the Oyo State Government and its agencies in four banks.
This online news platform understands that Justice A. O. Ebong of the High Court in the judgement sighted by News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday ruled on a motion ex-parte for garnishee order filed by the ex-chairpersons and councillors led by Bashorun Majeed, Bosun Ajuwon and Idris Okusesi.
Justice Ebong in his ruling ordered the affected banks, which are First Bank, United Bank for Africa, Wema Bank and Zenith Bank, to show cause why the order should not be made absolute.
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 Seyi Makinde of Oyo state.
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 May 7, 2021.
The ruling on the motion marked: FCT/HC/BW/M/238/2023, reads “A garnishee order nisi 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.
“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.
“A copy of this order nisi shall be served on the judgment debtors as required by law. This matter is hereby adjourned to 4/4/2023 for continuation.”
It was learnt 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, Seyi Makinde 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.
It was learnt that the ex-chairpersons and councillors were elected in the election conducted by OYSIEC on March 12, 2018, for a three-year term.
However, when Makinde took over office on May 29, 2019, and they learnt he had plans to sack them, they then 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 May 6, 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.
Despite the subsistence of the judgment, Makinde sacked the chairpersons and councillors on May 29, 2019, and subsequently appealed the judgment.
The Court of Appeal, in its judgment on July 15, 2020, set aside the judgment of the High Court, a decision the affected officials appealed at the Supreme Court.
In its judgment on 7 May 2021, a five-member panel of the Supreme Court presided over by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, allowed the appeal marked: SC/CV/556/2020 and set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal.
The apex court, which awarded a cost of N20 million against Makinde, ordered that the ex-chairpersons and councillors, 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.
In the lead judgment by Justice Ejembi Eko, the Supreme Court came down hard on Makinde, who it found, acted arbitrarily and undemocratic.
Justice Eko “I will not conclude this appeal without commenting on the disturbing ugly face of impunity displayed by the Governor of Oyo State (1st respondent herein) on 29th May 2019, tantamounting to executive lawlessness, outrightly and vehemently condemned by this court in the case of the Military Governor of Lagos State v. Ojukwu.”
He noted that, even before appealing the High Court judgment, Makinde on May 29, 2019 “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.
“Series of applications were filed by the judgment creditors, the present appellants, to restrain, particularly the 1st respondent (the Governor), from embarking on the self-help designed to contemptuously frustrate the judgment of the High Court.
“He was not dissuaded. He proceeded in his imperial omnipotence to continue in his untrammelled, albeit invidious contemptuous, disregard for a subsisting judgment of the High Court.
“It is unthinkable that a democratically elected governor would embark on these unwholesome undemocratic tendencies. These tendencies no doubt endanger democracy and the rule of law.
“It is almost becoming universal phenomena that the democratically elected Governors have constituted themselves into a specie most dangerous to democracy in this country.
“They disdainfully disregard and disrupt democratically elected Local Government Councils and appoint their lackeys as caretaker committees to run affairs of Local Governments,” Justice Eko added.
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