Court Freezes Oyo State Government's Accounts in 10 Banks Over N3.5bn Debt

Court Freezes Oyo State Government’s Accounts in 10 Banks Over N3.5bn Debt

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A Federal Capital Territory High Court in Abuja has issued an order to freeze the accounts of the Oyo State Government in ten commercial banks across the country. The directive came from Justice Anitte Ebong as part of a garnishee proceeding initiated by former council chiefs in Oyo State who were dismissed on May 29, 2019, by Governor Seyi Makinde. In 2021, these ex-council chiefs obtained a N4.9bn judgment against Makinde and other state officials and agencies.

The garnishee proceeding, led by Bashorun Majeed Ajuwon and his fellow ex-council chiefs, aims to recover the outstanding balance of N3.5bn from the judgment sum. Governor Makinde had only paid N1.5bn in 2022, prompting this legal action.

The accounts of the Oyo State Government in the following banks have been frozen: 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.

Justice Ebong’s ruling instructs the banks to file affidavits and appear in court on the next adjourned date to demonstrate why the garnishee orders nisi, initially granted, should not be made absolute. The judge imposed a cost of N300,000.00 against the judgment debtors and mandated that a copy of the order be served on Governor Makinde and others. The next hearing is scheduled for January 5 next year.

The Supreme Court had previously voided Makinde’s dismissal of elected Local Government Chairmen and Councillors in Oyo State on May 7, 2021. A similar judgment was given for Katsina State, directing both states to pay the salaries and allowances of the affected ex-council chiefs.

Justice Ejembi Eko, delivering the lead judgment in the Oyo State case, criticized Makinde’s decision to unlawfully dismiss the elected council chiefs before the end of their tenure. While the Katsina State Government complied with the court’s decision, the Oyo State Government, under Makinde, has failed to pay the unlawfully sacked ex-council chiefs, as ruled by the Supreme Court on May 7, 2021.

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