Breaking: Court blocks Oyo govt accounts in four banks over ₦3.4 billion debt

A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja has issued an order attaching funds standing to the credit of Oyo State Government and its agencies in four banks over unpaid salaries of former local government chairmen and councilors.

The affected banks are First Bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA), Wema Bank and Zenith Bank.

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 chairmen and councillors sacked on May 29, 2019 before the end of their tenure by 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 Ajuwon and Idris Okusesi.

The garnishee proceeding, initiated for the chairmen and councillors by their lawyer, Musibau Adetunbi (SAN), is in execution of a judgment they got against the Oyo State governor and six others from the Supreme Court on May 7, 2021.

Justice Ebong, in the ruling given on March 2, 2023 on the motion marked: FCT/HC/BW/M/238/2023, a certified true copy (CTC) of which was sighted in Abuja yesterday, ordered the banks 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 debtor with the Oyo State Governor are the state’s Attorney General, Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Accountant General, House of Assembly, its Speaker and Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission (OYSIEC).

The ex-chairmen and councillors were elected in the 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 sacked them, the chairmen and councillors filed a suit at 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 executives in the state.

In its judgment on May 6, 2019, 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 chairmen 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 chairmen and councillors appealed at the Supreme Court.

In its judgment on May 7, 2021 a five-member panel of the apex court, presided over 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 N20million against 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.

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