Law News
Autonomy: Court summons Plateau, Benue bankers over JUSUN’s suit
A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the bankers of Plateau and Benue States to appear in court on June 1 to show why they should not be made to pay about N1.6bn from the accounts of the states to satisfy the judgment it gave on judiciary autonomy on January 13, 2014.
 
Justice Adeniyi Ademola, who had delivered the judgment in favour of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria, granted the fresh order in his ruling on separate garnishee  applications the union filed against the two states on April 20, 2015.
 
The union stated  in the separate applications that the amount due to Benue State judiciary “as of March 2015, is N957,630,349.57” and the amount due to the Plateau State judiciary for the same period is N673,019,948.19.
 
The order was granted on Monday but a copy of it sighted on Tuesday showed that Skye Bank Plc was summoned with respect to the bank account of Benue State while Zenith Bank, First Bank of Nigeria and First City Monument Bank Plc were summoned with respect to the bank accounts of Plateau State.
 
The earlier judgment of the court delivered in January 2014 affirmed the financial autonomy status granted the judiciary by the constitution and abolished the piecemeal funding of the arm of government by the state governments.
The union had embarked on protracted industrial action due to refusal of the various state governments to comply with the judgment.
 
The governor and the Attorney-General of Benue State representing the state government are the 15th and 16th defendants in the suit while the governor and AGF representing the Plateau State government are the 63rd and 64th defendants.
 
In the garnishee application filed ex parte by JUSUN, the union described Plateau and Benue state governments as  part of the defendants in the suit who “bluntly refused to obey the judgment of the court.”
The two judiciary of the two states are said to be owing their workers who are members of the union “arrears of salary and other funds due to them up to March 2015.”
 
The supporting affidavits accompanying the applications stated that all efforts made to the state governments “to comply with  the judgment of this honourable court fell on deaf ears.”
 
The order with respect to Benue State read in part, “That an order nisi is hereby made attaching the money belonging to the 15th and 16th judgment debtors/respondents domiciled with Skye Bank Plc, Makurdi Branch – account number 170008758 to satisfy the judgment awarded in favour of the judgment creditor/applicant.
“The garnishee to show cause why the order nisi should not be made absolute by the court.”
 
The court adjourned the garnishee proceedings till June 1, the day the affected banks are due to appear in court.
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