N3.4 Billion Debt:Makinde Seeks Review of Supreme Court’s Judgment To Pay Sacked LG Officials

N3.4 Billion Debt:Makinde Seeks Review of Supreme Court’s Judgment To Pay Sacked LG Officials
 N3.4 Billion Debt:Makinde Seeks Review of Supreme Court’s Judgment To Pay Sacked LG Officials
N3.4 Billion Debt:Makinde Seeks Review of Supreme Court’s Judgment To Pay Sacked LG Officials

Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State has sought a review of a judgment of the Supreme Court to pay the salaries and allowances of local government chairmen and councillors he sacked upon assuming office on May 29, 2019.

Mr Makinde, in a fresh motion and notice of appeal before the Appeal Court, Abuja, urged the court to reverse the order.

The governor filed the applications along with the Oyo State Attorney General and five others.

In both fillings, Mr Makinde and other applicants want the appellate court to, among others, reverse the orders of April 27 made by Justice A. O. Ebong of a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in furtherance of the Supreme Court judgment given on May 7, 2021, in the appeal marked: SC.CV/556/2021.

The ex-LG officials, led by Bashorun Mojeed Ajuwan, had successfully challenged their sacked up to the Supreme Court.

In a judgment, the apex court had, on May 7, 2021, declared Mr Makinde’s sack of the council officials less than 19 months into their three-year tenure as unlawful.

In the judgment, the Supreme Court ordered that the salaries and allowances that “they ( the sacked LG officials) were each entitled to, be paid for the balance of the period from May 29, 2019 (when Makinde sacked them) ending on May 11 2032, when the respective tenures they were elected for would end.”

The apex court further ordered the state’s AG to file “on or before August 7, 2021, an affidavit (under the hand of the incumbent of the office) attesting to the payment of the said salaries and allowances” as ordered by the court in its judgment.

Reacting to Mr Makinde’s fresh motion and notice of appeal, Mr Ajuwon and other sacked LG officials accused the governor of a ploy to undermine the Supreme Court judgment.

Mr Makinde had, following the Supreme Court judgment, agreed to pay the sacked LG officials N4,874,889,425.60 (about N4.9 billion), out of which it paid only N1.5 million in 2022, leaving N3,374,889,425.60 (about N3.4 billion) outstanding.

Instead of paying the outstanding judgment debt of N3.4 billion, he applied to the High Court of the FCT in a motion he filed on April 3, praying to be allowed to pay the outstanding judgment debt in instalments of N300 million every six months, a proposal Mr Ajuwon and the other judgment creditors objected to.

However, in a ruling on April 27, Justice Ebong granted Mr Makinde’s prayer to pay in instalments but varied his payment plan on the grounds that, if allowed to pay the way he proposed, it would take him six years to fully defray the debt.

Justice Ebong proceeded to order one of Oyo State’s bankers, First Bank of Nigeria, to immediately pay Mr Ajuwon and others N1,374,889,425.60 (about N1.4 billion) and to pay the remaining balance of N2 billion in instalments of N500 million every six months, with the first instalment payable on July 31, 2023.

It is this ruling that Mr Makinde has appealed against and applied to be stayed in a notice of appeal and motion on notice filed recently before the Court of Appeal in Abuja.

In the motion, he is praying the appellate court to, among others, stay the execution of the judgment pending the determination of the appeal.

In the notice of appeal, Mr Makinde wants the court to reverse the ruling, arguing that the state has no resources to pay as ordered by the court.

He stated that Oyo State would be unable to meet its obligations should the order be executed as made.

But, in their counter-affidavit to the motion by Mr Makinde, Mr Ajuwon and others, who also filed a cross-appeal, faulted the governor’s claim, stating that the Oyo State can pay the debt, having not shown by credible documentary evidence that it was bankrupt.

The court of appeal fixed June 8 for a hearing.

(NAN)

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