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Court awards ₦50 million damages against Seyi Makinde for unpaid debt

Governor Makinde and others challenged this decision at the Court of Appeal, leading to the recent judgment.

Gov Seyi Makinde of Oyo state [Guardian]

A three-member panel of justices unanimously condemned Governor Makinde's conduct, describing it as disrespectful to the nation's judicial system.

The court upheld the April 27 decision of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), instructing the state governor to pay the remaining debt.

The ₦4.9 billion debt arose from a Supreme Court judgment against Makinde, the state’s Attorney-General, Accountant-General, and four others in an appeal by chairmen and councillors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC). They were dismissed by Makinde on May 29, 2019, upon assuming office.

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The appellate court, in its judgment, supported the arguments presented by the lawyer to the ex-council chiefs, Musibau Adetunbi, SAN. It resolved two key issues against the appellants and dismissed the appeal filed by Makinde and six others for lacking merit.

As part of the judgment, the court awarded ₦50 million in costs against Makinde and co-appellants, to be paid to the ex-council chiefs led by Bashorun Mojeed Bosun Ajuwon.

Justice Danlami Senchi, delivering the lead judgment, stated that there was no dispute regarding the amount constituting the judgment debt.

He referred to a letter from the Oyo State Attorney-General dated December 13, 2021, where the state acknowledged the debt and committed to paying it within six months.

The judge criticised the appellants’ claim that the ex-council chiefs needed to obtain the consent of the Oyo State Attorney-General before initiating a garnishee proceeding.

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He argued that such a requirement would be unfair to the judgment creditors and insisted that the ex-council chiefs were justified in taking the legal steps to settle the debt.

In the May 7, 2021 judgment, the Supreme Court declared the ex-council chiefs' action as lawful, ordering the Oyo State Government to compute and pay their entitled salaries and allowances within three months. However, the state government only paid ₦1.5 billion, leading the judgment creditors to initiate a garnishee proceeding.

The High Court of the FCT, in an April 27 ruling, issued a garnishee order absolute, directing Makinde and others to pay the balance of the judgment debt in installments. The Court of Appeal affirmed this decision in the judgment delivered on Friday.

Justice Ebong of the FCT High Court mandated the payment of ₦1,374,889,425.60 immediately, with the remaining ₦2 billion to be paid quarterly in installments of ₦500 million, starting on July 31. Governor Makinde and others challenged this decision at the Court of Appeal, leading to the recent judgment.

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