Legal Nigeria

Court rejects CBN’s request to withhold N8b awarded to Zaki-Biam invasion victims

A Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed an application by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) seeking to restrain the court from enforcing its order directing the bank to pay the N8billion damages awarded against the Federal Government.

The court had on August 19, 2021, in the case marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/321/2015, ordered the CBN to pay into an account to be opened by the court’s Chief Registrar, the N8billion awarded in favour of the victims of the 2001 invasion of Zaki-Biam (Benue State) by the military.

Rather than obey the order, the CBN appealed it and applied to the court to stay the execution of the order pending the determination of its appeal.

CBN’s lawyer, Professor Z. C. Anyogu, moved the application on June 10, during which he urged the court to stay further action on the case pending the determination of his client’s appeal.

Lawyer to the victims/judgment creditors, Ucha Ulegede prayed the court to reject the CBN’s application and insist that the bank obey the order made on August 19, 2021.

Ulegede added: “Since the order was made on 19 August, 2021, if the money has been in the custody of the court, it would have generated at least N720,000,000.00 in interest.

“That is what the judgment creditors are losing because of the garnishee (CBN). They are standing before the court whom they have not complied with its order to ask for something.

“I want the court to order that the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria and the senior officers of the Central Bank of Nigeria be arrested and taken to Kuje prison until they purge themselves of the contempt of court,” Ulegede said.

Ruling, Justice Inyang Ekwo, dismissed the application by the CBN on the grounds that it was without merit.

Justice Ekwo also declined the judgment creditors’ request that the CBN Governor and other principal officers of be bank be jailed for contempt.

The judge, in the ruling on June 10, a copy of which The Nation sighted in on Monday, said: “I find that this is a case where judgement was entered on terms of settlement by parties including the Federal Government of Nigeria, and the parties did not object when an order absolute was made in this matter and consequential orders were made on the order absolute.

“This application is not challenging anything on the order absolute made by the court, but on the consequential order as to payment of the judgement sum into the court for further orders of the court.

“The other issue on the application that the money has not been appropriated is no moment because parties willingly entered to settlement in this matter.

“Now the consequential order being challenge at the Court of Appeal does not affect the substratum of the case on the order absolute. Therefore, this court can still proceed with this matter.

“Now, looking at the entire process filed by the garnishee CBN, I find that there is no iota of law in support of this process and when a process is not supported by an iota of law, such process is considered an abuse of court process.

“I find that the application dated 7th January, 2022 is an abuse of the process of this court.

“The consequences of abuse of court process is that the process is dismissed, and I make an order dismissing the application,” Justice Ekwo said.

He adjourned till September, 28,2022 for the judgement creditors to report on CBN’s compliance with the order made on August 19, 2021.

Credit : THE NATION.