Court orders payment of pension arrears to ex-Gov. Nyame


Jolly Nyame, ex-governor of Taraba

The National Industrial Court, on Tuesday, ordered Taraba State Government, to immediately pay former Gov. Jolly Nyame and three others, arrears of their pensions.

The other judgment creditors in the suit are Uba Ahmadu, Abubakar Armayau, and Bilkisu Danboyi

The court, in addition, awarded the sum of N500,000 to the state government.

Justice Osatohanmwen Obaseki-Osaghae, while delivering judgment, held that the judgment debtors did not contest owing the judgment 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 judgment debtors was taken by court officials.

She further held that the judgment debtors submitted the 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 (CBN) preliminary objection.

According to the court, the objection raised by the apex bank that the court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the suit does not have merit.

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 Judgment Enforcement Rule, is attached to.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that a Garnishee proceeding is a judicial process of execution, or enforcement of the monetary judgment, by the seizure or attachment of debts due or accruing to the judgment debtor, which forms part of his property available in execution.

The court in response held that the court was not enforcing a Federal High Court judgment, but rather a judgment that was delivered by the same court.

The court equally held that it had the power to enforce the monetary judgment through a garnishee proceeding.

The judge also stated that the NICN had the same ranking as any High Court, and its judgment could be enforced in a garnishee proceeding.

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In addressing the issue of 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 CBN was not a public officer in the context of Section 84 of Sheriff & Civil Process Act.

The court in conclusion held that the judgment creditors in their counter-affidavit submitted that the Judgment debtor had its funds with the CBN.

The court, therefore, pronounced the order of garnishee nisi, made Dec. 2, 2021, absolute, as CBN had not shown cause why it should not be made so.

The judgment creditors had filed the suit against the judgment debtor, the Taraba State Government, and CBN, the garnishee debtor, through a garnishee proceeding.

The judgment debtor in a response filed an application filed on Jan. 24, seeking the order of the court to set aside the order nisi, granted in favor of the judgment creditors on Dec. 2, 2021.

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.

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 judgment 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 judgment creditors.

The judgment, which was delivered by Justice Sanusi Kado, was for an unpaid pension from May 2013 to Oct. 2015.

The court, in the said judgment, had ordered 10 equal installment payments, commencing from July 2019, on a monthly basis until the final liquidation of the total sum.

The judgment creditors were paid the sum of N16.3 million as the first installment but were never paid again until the expiration of the installment plan in Nov. 2021.

The judgment creditors, who were former employees of the judgment debtor upon retirement, were paid the sum of N45 million out of their total pension arrears of N196 million.

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