A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Abuja has issued an order attaching funds standing to the credit of Oyo State Government and its agencies in four banks.
The affected banks are First Bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA), Wema Bank and Zenith Bank, Newspeakonline reports.
The funds, according to court filings, are to settle the outstanding balance of N3,374,889,425.60 from the judgement debt owed some former Local Government Chairmen and Councillors sacked on May 29, 2019, before the end of their tenure by Oyo State Governor, 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 Bosun Ajuwon and Idris Okusesi.
The garnishee proceeding, initiated for the Chairmen and Councillors by their lawyer, Musibau Adetunbi (SAN), is in execution of a judgement they got against the Oyo State Governor and six others from the Supreme Court on May 7, 2021.
Justice Ebong, in the ruling delivered on March 2, 2023, according to The Nation, ordered the banks to show cause why the order nisi should not be made absolute.
“A garnishee order nisi is hereby granted to attach the judgement debtors’ accounts with garnishees Nos. 1 to 4 in the motion ex-parte, for the purpose of settling the judgement debt outstanding in the sum of N3,374,889,425.60 as awarded by the Supreme Court and conceded by the judgement debtors in Exhibit 11 attached to 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 judgement debtors as required by law. This matter is hereby adjourned to the 4/4/2023 for continuation,” Justice Ebong said.
It was gathered that the judgement creditors have since effected service of copies of the order on the judgement debtors as ordered by the court.
Listed as judgement debtors with the Oyo State Governor are 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-Chairmen and Councillors were elected in an election conducted by OYSIEC on March 12, 2018 for a three-year term.
Upon learning that Makinde, who took office on May 29, 2019 had planned to sack them, the Chairmen and Councillors approached 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 local government executive in the state.
In its judgement 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 judgement, Makinde sacked the Chairmen and Councillors on May 29, 2019, and subsequently appealed the judgment.
The Court of Appeal, in its judgement on July 15, 2020 set aside the judgement of the Oyo State High Court, a decision the affected Chairmen and Councillors appealed at the Supreme Court.
In its judgment on May 7, 2021, a five-member panel of the apex court, led by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, allowed the appeal 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-Chairmen 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 judgement by Justice Ejembi Eko, the Supreme Court came down hard on Makinde, who it found, acted arbitrarily and undemocratic.
“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,” Justice Eko said.
He noted that, even before appealing the High Court judgement, Makinde on May 29, 2019 “issued imperial directives dissolving all democratically elected Local Government Councils in Oyo State in spite of the subsisting judgement of Oyo State High Court in the suit No. 1/347/2017.”
“Series of applications were filed by the judgement creditors, the present appellants, to restrain, particularly the 1st respondent (the Governor), from embarking on the self-help designed to contemptuously frustrate the judgement of the High Court.
“He was not dissuaded. He proceeded in his imperial omnipotency to continue in his untrammelled, albeit invidious contemptuous, disregard of subsisting judgement 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 committee’s to run affairs of Local Governments,” Justice Eko said.