An Oyo State High Court sitting in Ibadan has struck out an ex parte motion brought by the 68 former council chairmen in the state, seeking to garnishee the account of the state government over Governor Seyi Makinde’s refusal to completely with the Supreme Court judgement, which ordered the state government to pay all their salaries and entitlements till their last day in office.
The Supreme Court had in its judgement of May 7, 2021, ordered the Oyo State Government to pay all the salaries and entitlements of the chairmen on or before August 7, 2021. The chairmen still has two years to spend in office before Makinde removed them on May 29, 2019, few hours after he was sworn-in.
The governor had asked the sacked chairmen to go back to the apex court for clarification and interpretation of the judgement, saying his administration needed further clarification regarding who should be paid salaries.
Makinde further noted that the 68 chairmen that went to court were not recognised under the law because the number of councils in Oyo State, according to the constitution, is listed as 33.
Following the governor’s refusal to comply with the August 7 deadline ordered by the apex court, the former council chairmen filed an ex parte motion to garnishee the state government’s account.
Ruling on the application on Monday, Justice Ademola Adegbola, struck out the suit, saying the sum of N7, 345, 072,979.69, claimed by the applicants in their reliefs was not stated in the Supreme Court judgement.
The judge held that garnishee proceedings must be certain and inputed, adding that it can’t be left to conjecture.
“The amount is not stated in the Supreme Court judgement. The reliefs the judgement creditors are claiming cannot be given to them. I have read the Supreme Court judgement on which this ex parte application was premised and I did not see anywhere where the sum was stated.
“Therefore, I will not grant the motion. The reliefs are hereby refused and the ex parte application is hereby struck out with the preliminary objection of the judgement debtors, ” Justice Adegbola held.
Earlier, counsel to the chairmen, Barrister Abiodun Amole, had said that the N7, 345, 072,979.69, claimed by the applicants was the sum of their salaries and entitlements the Supreme Court asked the Oyo State Government to pay. He said the amount was computed by an auditing firm based on the current scale being used.
Amole said the computation has been sent to the defendants since mid-June, adding that they didn’t dispute it.
He said:”It is for the judgement debtors to dispute the said amount being claimed. It is after both parties have argued their case that the court can determine the authenticity of the sum. It is settled. There is nothing before your Lordship to counter that sum.”
Amole urged the court to grant the application since the respondents did not disapprove the computation and also treat the reliefs separately and on their individual merits.
Also, counsels to the defendants, Chief Yomi Alliyu (SAN), who held brief for Otunba Kunle Kalejaye (SAN), and Y.O. Ogunrinde, told the court that both parties have reached an agreement and that the judgement creditors had given the judgement debtors till October 12, to pay 60 per cent of the money.
Alliyu asked the court for an audience and adjournment to enable both parties conclude their negotiation. He also prayed the court to grant them audience to present some facts he claimed the applicants had suppressed.
“If it behoves on your Lordship to promote reconciliation among parties, I hereby applied for an adjournment to enable us explore the opportunity of the offer they made to us. I also humbly request that you grant us audience on the application. In essence, we are still negotiating,” Alliyu said.
Ogunrinde alligned with Alliyu’s submission.
But Amole opposed both submissions, saying judgement debtors cannot be heard in a garnishee proceeding until the ruling has been made.
Ruling on Alliyu’s submissions, Justice Adegbola said a garnishee procedure stands on its own.
“The judgement debtor cannot be heard at them is stage of the proceedings. The judgement debtor is however not totally shut out by the proceeding because the debtor is allowed to be served the ex parte motion. The Court Registrar shall serve on all parties.
“Having regard to the present state of law in Nigeria, the application for right of audience cannot succeed. The right of audience and adjournment is hereby refused,” Justice Adegbola held.