Court orders payment of pension arrears to ex-Taraba gov, others
May 24, 2022
The National Industrial Court, on Tuesday, ordered the Taraba State Government to immediately pay former Governor Jolly Nyame and three others arrears of their pensions.
The other judgement creditors in the suit are Uba Ahmadu, Abubakar Armayau and Bilkisu Danboyi.
The court, in addition, awarded the sum of N500,000 against the state government.
Justice Osatohanmwen Obaseki-Osaghae, while delivering the judgement, held that the judgement debtors did not contest owing the judgement creditors, having entered and signed an undertaking to pay their pension arrears.The judge said that the undertaking was signed in order to stop the enforcement of the judgment, when the movable property of the judgement debtors were taken by court officials.
She further held that the judgement debtors submitted same argument and authorities as cited by the garnishee debtor.
The judge, therefore, stated that there was no merit in their submissions.Obaseki-Osaghae had, earlier in the judgment, addressed the Central Bank of Nigeria’s preliminary objection.
According to the court, the objection raised by the apex bank that the court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the suit did not have merit.
The CBN in its objection had argued that, as an agency of the Federal Government, only a High Court could carry out a garnishee proceeding against it, as provided by Section 251, 1(d) of the 1999 Constitution, and Section 84 of the Sheriff & Civil Process Act, which rule 2 & 3 of the Judgement Enforcement Rule, is attached to.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that a garnishee proceeding is a judicial process of execution, or enforcement of monetary judgement, by the seizure or attachment of debts due or accruing to the judgement debtor, which form part of his property available in execution.
The court, in response, held that the court was not enforcing a Federal High Court judgement, but rather a judegment that was delivered by the same court.
The court equally held that it had the power to enforce monetary judgement through a garnishee proceeding.
The judge also stated that the NICN had the same ranking as any High Court, and its judgement could be enforced in a garnishee proceeding.In addressing the issue of the CBN being a government agency and public officer that needed the approval of the Attorney-General before a garnishee proceeding could be taken against it, the court stated that the CBN was not a public officer in the context of Section 84 of Sheriff & Civil Process Act.
The court, in conclusion, held that the judgement creditors in their counter-affidavit submitted that the judgement debtor had its funds with the CBN.
The court, therefore, pronounced the order of garnishee nisi, made Dec. 2, 2021, absolute, as the CBN had not shown cause why it should not be made so.
NAN reports that the judgement creditors had filed the suit against the judgement debtor, the Taraba State Government and the CBN, the garnishee debtor, through a garnishee proceeding.
The judgement debtor in response filed an application on Jan. 24, seeking the order of the court to set aside the order nisi, granted in favour of the judgement creditors on Dec. 2, 2021.
NAN also reports that an Order Nisi means an order that will ripen or take effect at some set date in the future, unless the order is rescinded by a court before that date.
The CBN, on its part, had objected to the garnishee proceeding by stating that the court did not have jurisdiction to entertain the proceeding.
NAN also reports that the garnishee proceeding emanated from a judgement delivered by the same court on July 12, 2019.
In the judgment, the court had ordered the payment of the sum of N151.1 million, being the unpaid pension arrears of the judgement creditors.
The judgement, which was delivered by Justice Sanusi Kado, was for unpaid pension from May, 2013 to Oct. 2015.
The court, in the said judgement, had ordered 10 equal instalment payments, commencing from July 2019, on a monthly basis until the final liquidation of the total sum.
The judgement creditors were paid the sum of N16.3 million as first instalment, but were never paid again until the expiration of the instalments plan in Nov. 2021.
NAN also reports that the judgement creditors, who were former employees of the judgement debtor, upon retirement, were paid the sum of N45 million out of their total pension arrears of N196 million.
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