The Federal Capital Territory’s High Court in Abuja has ordered the Oyo State government’s accounts to be frozen in 10 commercial banks across Nigeria.

Justice A. O. Ebong made the order in response to a case brought by former Oyo State council chiefs, who were fired by Governor Seyi Makinde on May 29, 2019. The council chiefs later obtained a judgement of N4,874,889,425.60 against Makinde and other state officials and agencies in 2021.

The other officials/agencies listed with Makinde as judgment debtors, by virtue of the May 7, 2021 judgment of the Supreme Court, are 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).

Ex-council chiefs, led by Bashorun Majeed Ajuwon, are pursuing a garnishee proceeding to recover N3.5b outstanding from the actual judgment sum, which Makinde paid only N1.5m in 2022.

What was outstanding in respect of the Supreme Court judgment was N3,374,889,425.60, but the Court of Appeal in Abuja added N50million, which it awarded as cost against Makinde and others in a judgment on December 8, dismissing their appeal.

The banks in which the Oyo State Government’s accounts are blocked are 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, in the ruling on a motion marked: BW/M/85/2023, ordered the garnishees (the banks) to “file affidavits and attend this court on the next adjourned date to show cause why the garnishee orders nisi hereby granted should not be made absolute.”

The judge awarded N300,000.00 as cost against the judgment debtors; ordered that a copy of the order be served on Makinde and others and adjourned till January 5 next year for hearing.

On May 7, 2021 when the Supreme Court gave judgment, voiding Makinde’s sack of elected Local Government Chairmen and Councillors in Oyo State, the apex court gave similar judgment in respect of Katsina State and ordered both states to pay the salaries and allowances of the effected ex-council chiefs.

Justice Ejembi Eko, who delivered the lead judgment in the Oyo State case, condemned the decision by Makinde to unlawfully sack the elected council chiefs before the end of their tenure.

Justice Eko said: “I will not conclude this appeal without commenting on the disturbing ugly face of impunity displayed by the Governor of Oyo State on 29th May, 2019 which is  tantamounting to executive lawlessness, outrightly and vehemently condemned by this…

“Local Government Chairman and Councillors, being persons duly elected by the people cannot just be removed and their councils dissolved whimsically and arbitrarily by any other elected persons in clear abuse of their office and powers. It is not right in law and under the Constitution to do that.”

But, while the Katsina State Government has since paid its ex-council chiefs, who were unlawfully sacked, the Oyo State Government, under Makinde has failed to paid the ex-council chiefs he sacked before the end of their tenure, and which sack the Supreme Court voided in its May 7, 2021 judgment in the appeal marked: SC/CV/556/2020.

Lawyer to the ex-council chiefs, Musibau Adetunbi (SAN) had, during a hearing in the appeal filed by Makinde and others before the Court of Appeal, Abuja, told the court that some of his clients have died while others are suffering after they were unjustly sacked as elected council officials by Makinde, who he blamed for the delay in paying the judgment debt.

In a court document, the ex-council chiefs said: “As at date, we have lost 26 of our members, whose children are crying to the conscience of His Excellency (Makinde) for justice.

“Obviously, if His Excellency (Makinde) had paid our money within the six months expressly pledged by the immediate past Attorney General on his behalf, our deceased colleagues would have had little money to attend to the sicknesses that took most of them away.”

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