Monday 18 December 2023

Court Freezes Oyo Gov’t Accounts Over Unpaid Salaries To Ex-Council Chiefs

The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja has issued an order freezing the accounts of the Oyo State Government in 10 commercial banks across the country.

This directive came as part of a garnishee proceeding initiated by former council chiefs in Oyo State who were dismissed from their positions on May 29, 2019, by Governor Seyi Makinde.

Justice A. O. Ebong issued the order, following a garnishee proceeding launched by the ex-council chiefs, led by Bashorun Majeed Ajuwon, who obtained a judgment against Makinde and other state officials/agencies in 2021 totalling N4,874,889,425.

The judgment was passed against Makinde and several state officials/agencies, including the Attorney-General, Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Accountant-General of Oyo State, Speaker of the House of Assembly, the House of Assembly, and the Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission (OYSIEC).

The ruling aimed to recover the outstanding balance of N3,424,889,425.60 from the original judgment sum of N3.5 billion, of which Makinde had only paid N1.5 billion in 2022.

Further complications arose when the Court of Appeal in Abuja added N50 million as costs against Makinde and others in a judgment on December 8, 2023, dismissing their appeal. The outstanding amount, as per the Supreme Court judgment, now stands at N3,374,889,425.60.

In response, Justice Ebong ordered the banks where the state government maintains accounts, including Zenith Bank, United Bank of Africa (UBA), Wema Bank, First Bank of Nigeria, Ecobank, Guaranty Trust Bank, Access Bank, Polaris Bank, Jaiz Bank, and Union Bank, to freeze these accounts.

The judge directed the banks to provide affidavits and appear in court on the adjourned date to explain why the garnishee orders nisi should not be made absolute. A cost of N300,000.00 was awarded against the judgment debtors, with the court ordering the service of the order on Makinde and other involved parties.

The case is scheduled for further hearing on January 5, 2024. This legal action follows the Supreme Court’s ruling on May 7, 2021, which declared the dismissal of elected local government chairmen and councillors in Oyo State as unlawful.

The court had mandated the affected states, including Oyo and Katsina, to pay the salaries and allowances of the affected ex-council chiefs. While Katsina State had complied with the judgment, Oyo State is yet to fulfil this obligation.


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