An FCT High Court has stopped the Imo State government from withdrawing money from its account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and 16 other banks across the country on account of a N1 billion debt it owes a firm, E. F. Network Nigeria Limited.
The judge, Justice Bello Kawu, granted permission to the 17 banks to give reasons why plea for garnishee of accounts operated by Imo government should not be made absolute.
A garnishee order is a form of enforcing a judgment debt against a creditor to recover money. The court directs a third party that owes money to the judgement debtor to instead pay the judgment creditor.
Justice Bello Kawu made the order on Thursday in a motion exparte filed by two judgment creditors, E.F. Network Nig Ltd and Mr Gideon Egbuchulam respectively.
Banks involved in the ordeal asides the CBN are: Access Bank Plc, Zenith Bank Plc, Jaiz Bank, Union Bank Plc, United Bank for Africa (UBA), First Bank Plc, Ecobank Plc, Keystone Bank Plc, and Diamond Bank Plc.
Others are; Fidelity Bank Plc, Polaris Bank Plc, GTBank Plc, Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, Unity Bank Plc, Heritage Bank Plc, and FCMB Bank Plc.
The applicants had prayed the court to order the banks to appear before it within 14 days of service to show cause why they should not pay over to the judgment creditor the N1 billion owed them by Imo state government.
Respondents in the suit are Attorney-General of Imo State, Environmental Transformation Committee (Imo Entraco) and The Ministry of Environment, Imo State.
The Supreme Court had on March 8, affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeal Owerri ordering the state defendants to pay the N1 billion contract debt owed the applicants.
It held that the appeal filed by the Imo state government and Gov. Rochas Okorocha challenging the judgment of the lower court was not meritorious.
Okorocha and the other appellants were consequently ordered in to immediately pay the firm and its promoter, Egbuchulam the judgment sum.
The judgment sum was an outstanding amount left unpaid in a contract awarded to the company in 2008 under the administration of the state’s former governor, Ikedi Ohakim.